Let it go… My Thoughts on Parenting.

Let me preface this post by saying that I am only qualified to give parenting “advice” in that I am completely aware of my shortcomings and failures as a wife, mother, and well, as a person in general.  Trust me, my 6-year-old would be the first to agree.  She tells me at least once a week about how I am ruining her life.  I have come to realize though, that the acceptance of that imperfection is key to letting go of all the guilt, insecurities and other crap that so often comes with parenting.

Rewind about 9 (? I am totally guessing) years.  I attended a sales conference in St Louis with a couple of my co-workers.  There was this slick speaker.  No clue what his name was, but there was a part of his message that really stuck.  But it wasn’t really his message… he stole the words of Deepak Chopra, but sounding far more like Apu from the Simpsons he encouraged us to “Let it go”.  Make sure you say it in your head with the accent!  Now, it was shared in a business context quite specific to my line of work.  However, it was catchy and my co-workers and I quickly added it to our inside joke vernacular, which after almost 14 years has almost become a language of its own.

I am not sure when it actually clicked outside of the work world for me, but it can be so profound.

Just let it go people.

The stress.  The guilt.  The insecurities.  They serve no purpose in your life.  They are just dragging you down and keeping you from enjoying the bounty of blessings you have been given.

THERE IS NO PERFECT PARENT (*ahem*, earthly, anyway).  So let go of that idea right flippin now.  Give it up.  Ain’t gonna happen.  All you are going to accomplish in trying is making yourself, and likely everyone around you, miserable.  The reality is your kids WILL have issues.  They will probably blame you for those issues.  There will be things you cannot shield and protect them from.  Their heart will break, which will break yours.  Then they will be bratty and selfish and mean and you will wonder what the heck you did for them to think that is ok.  Then you will hear them parrot your words and then you will hear yourself parrot your parents’ words and then you will need to find a drink ASAP.

That Pinterest perfection stress?  LET IT GO.  First off, it is the internet.  You have heard that famous quote from Abe Lincoln, right?  “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.”  What is important to YOU?  To your family?  Just focus on that and deal with the other crap when- if- you have time.  Completely organic, home cooked meals everyday?  Kudos to you!  Really, that is awesome.  Me?  I love Halloween.  If me making costumes means the kids eat McDs and frozen pizzas a few nights, I am good with that.  If there are two loads of dirty dishes waiting for a spot in the dishwasher so we can play board games or wrestle around, so be it.  I have forgotten picture day, snacks for the week, money for offering, pick up from preschool, the list goes on and on… and I am only 6 years into this parenting gig.  But guess what?  My kids are still happy to see me!  Sure, it may just be because I didn’t forget them.  *W*.  Let go of the stress of perfection.

Really, what better way for you kids to know that it is ok to screw up from time to time than to see that you make mistakes as well?  If you flip your lid and yell at them when you shouldn’t have, apologize.  Tell them that you are working hard to do better- and follow through.  Ask them to forgive you and LET IT GO.  Life happens and sometimes, as much as you would like to move Heaven and Earth to be at every ball game, school award ceremony and teeth cleaning YOU CANNOT DO IT ALL.  Your kid WILL survive.  Don’t harbor that guilt.  Seriously, that will be far too much baggage to lug by the time kids are grown.

Then there are those icky little insecurities… a few things to keep in mind here.  1) Children are evil masterminds and they WILL find your insecurities and exploit them.  It is like Sesame Street is covert CIA training.  But remember, you are the adult.  No name calling.  Also, just do what is right for your family.  Do not let other people’s (usually unsolicited) opinions impact what you feel is best for YOUR family.  Do what you want.  After a while everyone just assumes you are crazy and doesn’t bother questioning you anymore.  The other thing is, in picking up on your insecurities, you kids can, and often will, take them on as their own.  I make a point to NOT let my daughter see me crying about my muffin top and stretch marks.  Or the bye-bye skin on my triceps.  Or the cellulite on my thighs.  Or the little wrinkles that are forming around my eyes.  There are less superficial insecurities, but for the sake of my vanity, we will leave it at my childbearing ravaged body.  We have already covered that we aren’t perfect, and we aren’t going to be.  So, for their sake and yours LET IT GO.

My prayer in all of this is that all of the struggling parents out there, all of those thinking about being parents, all of those just barely hanging on, can let go.  Parenthood is the most amazing, challenging, rewarding, frustrating, soul quenching experience.  Don’t get so caught up in what you think it should be or what you want it to be that you cannot enjoy all that it is.