Bruce’s Facebook post really got to me because I’ve experienced the same thing. People have directly or indirectly told us we’re not doing a good job as parents. And it hurts.
A long time ago, when Megan was a toddler, we went through a bad transition in leaving a church in Northern California. It’s almost comical to reflect on, but people were upset that we were leaving, they were bitter that we walked away from a toxic situation that they felt trapped in, and they took it out on us.
Professionally, I was told things like I was unfit for ministry, that leaving meant I couldn’t ever pastor again, that I was arrogant, on and on.
Honestly? None of that hurt. They were just angry. I had disappointed them, I wasn’t equipped to fulfill the promises that my hiring signified, yada yada yada. In the words of a wise woman, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”
But it was the personal jabs that left a mark. People took the time to stop by our house and tell us things we were doing wrong in raising Megan. Phone calls, notes sent to our house, little sideways things said in the church parking lot.
We were 26 years old. We had a 2 year old and another baby on the way. We had no idea what we were doing but we were doing the best we possibly could. You can be mad that we quit a job at a church and moved away. But the attacks? That was a personal foul we’ll never get past.
I wish that was the last time we’d experienced that. In reality, as a parent you are told all the time that your parenting is good or it’s bad or it’s whatever. You compare yourself to others, you hear things, you have highs and lows.
Relax, we are all good and bad parents at the same time
I think 2016 has been our most challenging year of parenting.
We’ve weathered several crisis. We maxed out our family deductible with our health insurance. We’ve each had moments where we’ve broken down or thought we were losing our minds. We’ve had moments where we went so full tiger parent on someone that Ricky Lake would run to counseling. We’ve each had moments where we go into private spaces and scream.
It’d be easy to look at the last 12 months and award myself a “Worst Dad Ever” coffee mug.
But this year we’ve also learned the value in allowing ourselves the grace we hope to extend to others. We know what we’re doing. We have no idea what we’re doing. Literally, every parent on the planet feels the same way.
We’ve grown to accept that in our families worst moments we’re the best parents our kids have and that matters far more than some measurement of “good parent” or “bad parent.”
We’ve grown to accept that in our own worst moments we have to deal with our own messes.
We’ve had a challenging year but we’re much closer, more resolved, more engaged, and wiser for it.
There’s a figure of speech that says, “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” That’s a load of crap which will leave you jaded and emotionless. Whatever doesn’t kill you will probably mortally wound you. And you’ll need some time to recover from those wounds. And to recover you’ll need to extend yourself a freaking break.
Everyone take a deep breath.
Relax, just don’t smoke crack
A few years back, as our friend Melanie was adapting to life as a new mom, she shared she was feeling some of this same self-judgment. One night she made a funny, off-hand comment that’s really stuck with me: “Any day I don’t smoke crack is a good day as a mom.”
In other words, if you wake up tomorrow with another day… you’re doing just fine.
Relax, parenting friends. You are doing just fine.
Don’t do crack.