A WISH FOR A GREAT DAY FOR A GREAT PARENT
My foster children and I got into the van later than I had hoped again. We raced out of the driveway, headed to town, 16 miles away for a doctor’s appointment for one of them and some other meetings for me. Because I consider myself a great parent, on the open road I glanced in the rear view mirror to confirm that everyone had seat belts on. Locking eyes with the shortest Little Person in the back seat, I heard:
Little Person: Oooohhh. Eye shadow.
Me: Yes. I put on eye shadow. Why?
Little Person: Enthusiastically strumming an air guitar. Well…you look like a rock star! A cool rocker!
Ugh! I am apparently on my way to several professional appointments looking like a rock star, not the polished great parent I hoped. It was going to be THAT kind of day I guess.
That kid always reminded me of what a wild trip great parenting really is.
I hope you have days you decide you are a great parent. You can look like a rock star because you are a star. Here’s how I know that:
I never believed I was an awesome parent, certainly not a star! I had hoped I had achieved the level of a great parent though. For example, one morning before school my daughter said she felt sorry for me. At first I was moved at how sensitive she had become at her young age of seven. I asked her why she felt sorry for me that early in the morning when I hadn’t made any mistakes yet. We had barely had a chance to say hi as everyone got ready to go to school and work. She said that she was sorry because TV moms got to cook good breakfasts for their children every day before school “and you don’t.”
My first reaction was that she didn’t know me very well if she thought I wanted to cook a big meal of any kind. Kindly known as a marginal cook, I praised the advent of cereal in those small boxes and toaster anything—pancakes, waffles, pop up pastries, and the microwave. Especially the microwave.
Secondly, I think the TV commercials had done their job. Children who watched believed that “good” mothers cooked large breakfasts for their children. The women to be pitied were those who had no time to cook for any reason. It was implied they didn’t want to take the time.
The truth was that they, too, were headed out the door for a job which allowed them to bring home the boxes of cereal and toaster goodies for the morning meal. She believed I wanted to make a nice big breakfast of eggs and pancakes and bacon for her and her brother, but that I didn’t have time. I thanked her for her concern as we hustled out the door.
That time of my life was punctuated with hurrying children off to school, hurrying to a stressful job, trying to be a creative cook with what was in the pantry when the money ran out before the month did, and hoping I could keep it up for the next few years!
However, the conversation with my daughter troubled me over the next few days. Did my small children feel sorry for me as I tried to do my best? As the example-setter for them, I was hoping to see them base their adult decisions and behaviors on what good traits and values they had seen in their parents.
Was I Failing to Achieve the Status of Great Parent?
Wow! Was I failing as a parent? When compared to the tall, thin, pulled-together mom on TV, was I falling short? Of course I was! I was, because the ideal mom on TV didn’t exist in most homes. The television was selling hot bacon or fresh eggs or freshly-squeezed juice. Ad men weren’t selling sloppy jelly sandwiches or milk all over the table when a child practiced pouring their own milk.
Also, they weren’t selling moms running out the door with the children, trying to make a single-parent or two-working-parent household run well. They were selling what they thought we wanted. We were to envy that smiling mom, that great parent pouring syrup on well-formed pancakes shaped like smiley faces with a strawberry for a mouth and two chocolate chips for eyes.
Was that well-organized, holding it together, amazing mom ever going to appear in my kitchen at breakfast time? Probably not. However, the mom who was there was doing her best, getting better and better at it each day, finding joy in the little victories. My pancakes popped out of the toaster, and my juice came from a large glass bottle. However, I was doing my best, raising children who were loved tremendously and encouraged often.
What I didn’t know at that time was that I was a star. I wish someone had told me that, just like I am telling you now.
You are a STAR! Believe me when I say that, but more importantly, believe in yourself. As you look back on these days, you will have an entirely different perspective of how well you did as a parent. You will realize you were a great parent after all!
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