What’s a Great Parent? I can tell you what it isn’t.
My children and I got into the van late. Again. We raced out of the driveway, headed to town, 16 miles away for a doctor’s appointment. I glanced in the rear-view mirror to confirm that everyone had seat belts on. Locking eyes with the youngest child in the back seat, I heard:
Child: Oooohhh. Eye shadow.
Me: Yes. I put on eye shadow.
Me: What? Cool? Why is that cool?
Child: Enthusiastically strumming an air guitar. Well…you look like a rock star! A cool rocker!
Ugh! It was going to be THAT kind of day I guess. On my way to several professional appointments looking like a rock star, I was not the polished great parent I hoped to be. I guess I was a bit heavy handed with the “stays-on-until-you-wash-it-off” eye shadow in my rush to get out the door.
Do you believe you are a great parent or even a STAR?
I didn’t believe I was.
For example, one morning before school my daughter said she felt sorry for me. I was moved by 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.
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.”
Her words cut like a knife until I thought about it a minute. Then I realized she didn’t know me very well if she thought I wanted to cook a big meal of any kind.
Known as a marginal cook during the years I worked outside the home, the only outstanding meals I cooked were holiday meals. Thanks to turkey cooking bags, microwave potatoes, crock pot liners, salad in a bag, boxed dressing and other time saving devices, I did rock at holiday meals.
Every other day, however, I praised the advent of cereal in those small wax-lined boxes and toaster anything—pancakes, waffles—whatever. Bring them on!
Wow! Was I failing as a great parent in my children’s eyes?
Did they think I was failing because the ideal mom on TV didn’t exist in my home?
The breakfast ad men were selling sizzling hot bacon and fluffy eggs with freshly-squeezed juice. They weren’t selling sloppy jelly sandwiches or a mess on the table when a child practiced pouring their own milk.
Also, they weren’t selling moms running out the door, trying to make a single-parent or two-working-parent household run well. They wanted us to envy that smiling parent pouring syrup on well-formed pancakes shaped like cute animals.
And I did!
I knew moms everywhere did that. However, at that time of my life, I simply couldn’t.
I had to acknowledge that I could be a great mom without serving pancakes shaped like the south end of a bunny going north.
So my waffles came out of the toaster, and my juice came out of a plastic bottle whose label threatened it was poised to spoil before I got home from work that day. And we put peanut butter on everything just to get the protein. I was doing my best with what I had going on at that time in my life.
Where are you in life? Busy mom running to a stressful job? Single mom trying to hold it together as you do your best? Over-scheduled stay at home mom? Maybe an entrepreneur with more tasks than time?
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!
One day I had to decide I was doing a great job. My children were loved, clean and almost always healthy. They got adequate sleep most of the time. They ate regularly and occasionally from the basic food groups. Because no parent is perfect, I had to decide I was probably a great parent.
“I am a great parent for where we are in life.” That became my mantra as my kids grew into teens.
Then the mantra changed to “I don’t care whose mother said they could do that. You aren’t doing it.”
Even great parents have to change gears as their kids grow. Now my mantra is, “My kids are great parents for where they are in life.” (And they are!)
I have become the encourager I needed when my little kids ate from wax-lined cereal boxes and felt sorry for me at breakfast time.
It’s the circle of life.
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Claudia Thomason, Certified Parent Coach and Amazon Number One Best Selling Author, has parented 16 biological, foster and adopted children. The house constantly percolates with activity like a fine, old coffee pot. The grown-ups, the big orange cat and unduly large plecostomus don’t seem to mind the controlled chaos, so it’s all good.