If I let my mental guard down for even a minute, I’m a terrible parent. It’s not may kids who would say this, or my friends, or even strangers. It’s what I would say to myself. I’m most definitely not a good parent.
I don’t even have to do anything different in my parenting style for my mind to go there. I can go about my day still occasionally yelling at my kids, sometimes swearing, often looking at the stories of other parents raising three-year-old’s who have learned how to code but do so without the usual “all parents do this” lens I usually look at life through and come away thinking I’ve broken my kids.
This is something most of us do. I don’t know if it’s a byproduct of looking online at stories of parents we’d call great all day long or whether it’s because we all see the internet viciously react to a parent doing something we do all the time.
But for some reason, I find it easy to say:
“They are a good parent.”
“You are a good parent.”
“I am a bad parent.”
But I find it nearly impossible to say:
“I am a good parent.”
Or, when I do manage to find a block of time to tell this to myself, there’s the other side of my brain right there ready to remind me of the time in the morning I didn’t let my daughter have a second handful of Shreddies even though she used the word “please” when she asked for them or that my three-year-old know the word “fuck” and that I think I heard her whisering it to her bear that morning.
Well, fuck that.
“I’m a good parent.”
I should say that more often. You should say it more often too. Even when you don’t believe it. Especially when you don’t believe it.
Because if someone were to ask me if I thought I was raising good kids, I’d be answering in the positive before the question had been completed. Because if someone were to ask me if my girls are going to change the world for the better, I’d have an easy time picturing their impact.
Because for every face full of tears that sits at the forefront of my memory, I can see hundreds of smiles poking out behind it. Because when I ask my daughter what it means to be beautiful, she answers “be kind.”
Because saying “I’m not a good parent,” means I’m allowing someone else’s story define my aptitude as a parent.
Because what we secretly hope as parents—that other parents are struggling too—is the truth. Because I have moments that make other parents feel like a bad parent and I know these moments are fleeting. Because I know when my child sits at a restaurant while someone else’s kid doesn’t, they’ll use my kid as an example for how someone “should act.” And because I’ll know that’s not true because next time the tables will be turned.
I’ll say I’m a good parent because I am. There will be many times when others don’t believe that and there will be more times that I don’t believe that.
I’m not perfect, but I’m a good parent.
4 responses to “I’m a good parent. I’m a good parent.”