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A Mother In Progress

a mother in progress

We all have a vision for how we would like our families to be, look and feel. Instead of solely focusing on specific goals or the outcomes you hope to produce for your family or your parenting this year, maybe look at the year as part of a longer journey. The journey of becoming the parent you want to be for the child(ren) you are raising. The journey is not about being a perfect parent or mastering your challenges in parenting in just one calendar year. Rather, the journey is a period of time when you get to learn, mess up, and try again. This journey is an opportunity to change in ways you had no idea were possible. 

Almost all of the parents I work with report that they struggle with managing guilt as a parent. The guilt of being reactive, feeling out of control, not knowing what to do in challenging moments, and the guilt of feeling like you just don't have your “sh!t” together. (And your friends on Facebook don't help by looking like they are always having so much fun with their amazingly well behaved, happy, & appreciative children!) 

A few years ago when my daughter was 10-year-olds she reminded me that becoming a parent is a process and that we are all "in progress". This reminder arrived in the form of a poem that she wrote. (The original format is pictured above) What was most extraordinary about this 3-line poem was the depth, understanding, and compassion she has for parents (namely me). This short poem presents some valuable reminders that I thought were worth sharing.

A Mother In Progress

My mother has always been a beautiful soul, 
but on occasion, she can be a grumpy troll. 
She devotes her life to the kids she loves, 
and sometimes they feel as though they are treated like thugs. 
I know she seems bad, but she is very good, 
because you have tough times in the stage of motherhood.

- Maya (10 yrs.) 

My interpretation: 

Line #1 We are all human. Even though as parents have more wisdom and experience than our children we are not perfect. The first line also recognizes that even though we are innately good, we are not always at our best and we make mistakes. 

Line #2 Even when we are doing our very best as parents our children may still feel disappointed and frustrated with us. (And that's okay! Our job is not to make them happy all the time. Feeling sad and disappointed builds grit and resilience). In this line, she shows appreciation for the effort, time and energy that parents put into raising their children. But even when parents make this huge investment in their children kids still don't always like the way parents respond and make decisions.

Line #3 Being a parent is tough! Many of the things we have to do as parents may look or feel bad to our children. But this line demonstrates that she understands that it is not easy figuring out how to be a parent and empathizes.

The message I want to highlight by sharing this poem is: It's not about getting it right and being perfect, it’s about being human. And being human is exactly what our kids need from us. 

As parents, we are all “in progress". And as we launch into this next season please remember to not only focus on the destination but also the journey you are currently on. Being the parent your child needs is not about checking boxes at the end of the year. It's about noticing how you are growing as a parent and as a human being. You won’t always have all the answers or parent “the right way.” So, leave the guilt at the door, have realistic expectations for yourself and enjoy the journey as best you can because we are all “in progress”!