Sunday, April 7, 2013

If you try as a parent, you do better than you think...

(Note: This original ran four months ago, but how appropriate, given Friday's post. Another one related to this is parenting through your flaws. Parenting, at least for me, is messy, and admitting my mistakes helps me do better next time. I am not perfect and I have to learn and grow right alongside Brady.)

Years ago I read a statement somewhere that went something like this: "As a parent, if you are at least trying to do the right things, then you are probably doing a lot better job than you think."

I cannot for the life of me figure out where, but in my Googling around today, I found this article which fits the bill:

10 reasons you're a better parent than you think you are

Here's an excerpt: "We live in an advice-rich age and parenting experts are as ubiquitous as pictures of Angelina and her brood. While information is power, too much information can be debilitating. When it comes to parenting, sometimes it's nice to remember that many of us, most of us even, know what is right for our kids, without cracking even one book."

That statement has been a comfort to me since I first read it. I'd like to add my own 2 cents to it. Every parent, no matter their situation, has it hard. We're all blessed beyond words to be entrusted with these little people, but it's so complicated, whether you have 5 kids or 1, are a working or stay-at-home parent, home school or public school, single or married, in a big city or small.

Each unique situation has unique problems, difficulties, challenges, complications. Every family is different and so are their needs.  In my case, I work full-time self-employed in our family business. This at times calls for odd hours and requirements, but on the other hand it means I can bring my son to work a few days each week in the summer. We live in a small town where there are not readily accessible kid-friendly activities, but it just means we get creative.

Since I don't have 1 or 2 or 3 other kids needing attention, I'm able to devote a lot of time one-on-one with Brady. But he'd desperately love a sibling and it'd be nice for him to have a playmate that's not 41 years old and has a house to clean and dinneer to cook!

I am often challenged and overwhelmed trying to determine the best way to handle his diagnoses of ADHD and anxiety though I think we're finally on the right path. We're a blended family with me, my son and his step-father, which has its own set of problems.

He has to take two different medicines a day, and a vitamin, has to wear glasses and a patch twice a week due to a lazy eye, has allergies in the spring, asthma in the winter or whenever he gets sick for which we keep an inhaler and a nebulizer. He's highly allergic to eggs which means I make his lunch every day and bring along food wherever we go. There's so much planning involved in all of that.

His teeth are coming in crooked so someday we'll have dentistry to consider. He has chores he must do each week. I want him to have good tooth brushing habits and phone skills. We go to church every week and I want him to learn to pray and consider others and be compassionate and write thank you notes and show gratitude. He's got to have a bath and get in pajamas every day and spend time on the phone with his Dad who calls every single night and his grandma who calls every Saturday. There are school functions and church functions and nightly homework in reading, math and spelling.

Sometimes I think, how on Earth can one kid - and one family - have so many things that need tending, so many things that have to be done. How would someone do it if they had 3 or 4 or 5 kids?

So, with all of that going on, I find I am not a perfect mother. No Super Mom here. In fact, very far from it. I know you're supposed to have a sit-down family dinner. But truth be told, my husband often has to work at the office until 7 or 8. Brady, whose bedtime is 8:30, is hungry long before that. I have dishes and laundry and groceries to put away. We have his prize store money to tally.

More often than not I give Brady his dinner while he's playing on the computer or watching TV. That way I can eat with my husband when he comes home, something we both enjoy a lot and brings us closer as a couple. I know that is a huge no-no to the experts in the world of health and family life, but that's just how it works out for us.

We all know the rule of not too much "screen time." But during the week, Brady and I both just need a break when we get home, so I let him play on the computer for a good while. I get things done and he relaxes.

Other than his homework, we don't do a lot of extra studying outside of school. I just don't have it in me. I admit, I just want to relax and regroup and so does he. Sometimes I get tired, frustrated, stressed and I overreact to something Brady says or does. But I always apologize, so hopefully he learns how to gracefully admit a mistake.

Sometimes I feel guilty about these things. But I do try. I try every day. I try to make sure his school lunch and that nightly dinner, no matter where he eats it, are healthy and good for him. I monitor the shows and games he plays to make sure they are appropriate. Every morning I snuggle on the couch with him and put peanut butter on a banana for him. I've done that nearly every day for almost 4 years. Every night, we snuggle up and I read him three bedtime stories. Every week we do his prize store. Every weekend we do something outdoors, whether a project or bike ride or walk, or we build a tower in his room or play a board game or sort pennies for his penny books.

So while I am not perfect, I know I am good enough. I try hard, Brady is loved, he's thriving and learning and growing. He doesn't seem to want for anything and he loves me and trusts me with all his heart.

In the end, that's what matters. I have created a safe, loving home for him. Maybe it's not like the experts say it should be. But it works for us. I hope you all find what works for you as a family and then don't spend any time feeling guilty about it.

Here's kiddo and I during a hike all three of us took recently:

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