I’m a parent. It’s been at least 4,000 days since I last sat quietly somewhere and had an uninterrupted thought. I just brought my 2 kids (9 and 6 years old) home from karate lessons and thought I’d take a minute to write to you: my fellow parents. I imagine all of you out there. Some of you are chasing toddlers determined to run out in front of traffic. Some of you are tucking your little ones gently into bed. Some of you are yelling at the top of your lungs, “Hit your brother one more time and I WILL SEND YOU TO A WORK CAMP IN SIBERIA!!!” Some of you feel blessed and lucky to have the opportunity to raise these wonderful little humans. Some of you are wondering how you ever let this happen to you and whether you will ever feel happy again. I have experienced all of these things and many more. My hope is to support other parents as they go through these ups and downs.
There are so many experts out there in the world who can tell you how to be a better parent. There are studies and panels and books and articles. I’ve been a parent for nine years and I was a nanny for another 15 years before that. In all those years I have learned one thing: I will never truly be an expert. Parenting isn’t like learning to ride a bike. It’s maybe like speaking a second language. You can become pretty fluent but there will always be dialects and idioms that throw you. I am still learning so much, every day. My kids are my teachers.
If there’s one thing that I’ve (re)learned lately it’s this: Stop Making it All About Me. When my kid gives me attitude in the grocery store and I get dirty looks from the lady ahead of me in the grocery line, my embarrassment can make me turn it into my own personal failure. It makes me want to get away from the situation rather than deal with it effectively. Kids push limits. They misbehave. It’s normal, healthy, and exhausting and insanely embarrassing. But it’s not about us, even when it is. Do you follow me? When I remind myself that it’s a teaching moment and not about making me look good or bad in front of other people, I handle it better. I deal with the behavior without losing my temper or caving in. Other people will always judge us. Let them. It’s not about them either. It’s about kids learning what’s ok. They need to learn self-control and respect, and doing it wrong is part of that process. So that’s it. That’s my wisdom. We’re all in this together!
- Kirsten Perridge