Parenting Forward: Reflections One Year Later

I wrote THIS a year ago – here is an excerpt:

I had the incredible realization yesterday that no matter what I do to “be better than”, my children are going to have something to say about it – and not necessarily good things!  I decided yesterday that beyond forgiving her, I have to stop trying to “be better than”.

The only thing I can *do* as a parent is listen to my children and do what it is best for them.  Parenting has to look forward, not backward.  What is my child’s personality?  What do they need from me:  Time? Touch? Kind words?

Instead of trying to be a better mother than my predecessors, I have to focus on being the best mother for the child in front of me.  I can’t do “one size fits all” mothering – it has to be individual, personal and invested in them.  That old saying “it’s not about you” is so poignantly true here.

Parenting is not about our past and us.  It is about our children and their future.

So, I am still working on forgiveness and my perceived shortcomings in how I was parented.  I am happy to say I feel like I have completely let go of being “better than” other parents from my past and those that are around me.  I embrace the fact that each of my children is an individual and needs me in a different way than their sibling may or may not be wanting to connect with me.

Things that I try to honor in each of them:
  • Their love language
  • Their space – each one has different touch and proximity needs
  • Making time for each one every day, even if it’s just 5-10 minutes of time with them without their siblings around to get on the floor and play, snuggle, or read a book.
  • Making sure they hear me say, “I love you and that love for you will never diminish” and making time to give each one a long hug every day.
  • Their need to see their dad and I in a healthy, safe relationship – as much as we can, we try to use humor and not talk unkindly even if we are in disagreement.

Parenting is definitely one of the biggest challenges I have faced as a human being.  The responsibility to love, nurture and create healthy, confident, thoughtful, empathetic human beings that will do good in the world because they want to is a big job.  I pray that I am up for it and that at the end of my life, my children can at least know that they were loved and cherished in spite of my imperfect parenting.

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