The other evening, my husband and I sat chatting over a glass of wine and, as parents do, we very quickly began talking about the children. We often analyse our own parenting. It just seems natural to us, in our bid to raise decent humans, that we reflect on the things that go well. Or don't.
My husband said that lockdown has left him feeling guilty. Welcome to my everyday, buddy. Despite seeing so much of the kids and being around the lunch and dinner table with us, he sees disappointment in their eyes, particularly in our youngest, when he turns down their pleads to play hide and seek. The daily juggle that mums are used to; how to keep everyone happy, entertained and fed whilst keeping the house in some order and for many mums, working too. The guilt weighs heavy. Lockdown means working from home, but to our 3 year old, it just means we're home. He has no concept of what work means or what pressure careers can bring, especially when you depend on one income. It doesn't matter how much we'd love to hang with our little dudes, building garden forts and picnicking under the tree, we have to give time to other things. Unless we are willing to go homeless or insane, which funnily enough, we're not. But our youngest doesn't understand that. They get quality time with us. I'm a massive advocate for connecting deeply with our children. We routinely make a conscious effort to have fun and spend time together but if I'm honest, I think no matter how much quality time we give they'd always ask for more!
So, why do we feel guilty when the majority of the time we're not giving the whole of ourselves to our children, is so we can do things FOR them. Like earn money to keep them sheltered and fed! Or take time for ourselves because it just makes us a nicer! Our expectations are unrealistic, thats why. These are moments to teach our children to respect the needs to others. To understand how to be patient or find a way through boredom. We feel guilty because their emotional discomfort hurts us, yet we feel we're the cause too. Complicated!
I came to the realisation during our chat, that we have to accept we won't always be the 'perfect parent'. I think so many of us think 'perfect parenting' means taking our children through childhood without being the cause of their difficult emotions. I don't think that's possible. That's not to say we shouldn't try. But sometimes, our job is to guide our children through challenging feelings that are directly related to us because it prepares them for life. Somehow we have to find a way to do that in the least toxic way we can and keeping attachments healthy! One of biggest lessons we can take from it is self forgiveness.
We do the best we can with what we know. I think that has to be our aim over perfection.