Many conflicting things about parenting are true. Our roles are so complex. Whether in a struggle over a behavior or in board game – winning and losing can be complicated. We have to constantly ask ourselves: “What is needed?” “What happens next?” “What is the deep learning here?”
It is super important to “win” – to get our way, to follow through firmly, to hold to a standard… But it is also vital to “lose” – to back down, to give in, to admit we were wrong, to listen and adjust graciously.
In a tricky struggle you prevailed. In another conflict you yielded. This is the way it should be. Both were important. Winning, as a parent, sometimes means losing. You are doing right in striving for this balance.
Why is it that the color and taste are so much more vibrant when things are really fresh?
Maybe it is the wait – the anticipation grown from tending spindly little sprouts, of enduring the tease of green tomatoes and berries, of hoping for a bigger squash. Maybe is it the pride of accomplishment – being a part of the whole process. Maybe it is the feeling of cheating – like getting something for nothing. Maybe it is because we get to eat things at their exact peak. Or maybe our garden is just the best.
Today we had the darkest, fattest blueberries (the very few the birds couldn’t get to) and the reddest cherry tomatoes wrapped in the greenest basil leaves. Tomorrow we will make pesto and Caprese from the abundance. The berries, sadly, are gone.
In sharing the freshest food – from your pots, yard, farm, or market – you’re teaching and encouraging delicious health. This is a great gift. You should get a sticker.
Today, actually, they made ME wait. I picked up my adult son from work and, just as I got there, he texted that something had come up and he wasn’t out for another hour. It was tricky for me.
Were it not for the lifetime of practice in taking turns with grace, explaining consideration, learning from tons of mistakes, building our relationship based upon mutual trust… I would have been unnecessarily ugly. Truth? It still took some effort.
You are in the midst of parenting young ones; their needs feel urgent (especially to them!) But you wisely took a deliberate pause, a measured breath, made a firm and kind request for “just a moment”. You are finding balance and teaching balance at the same time. You can boast of your successes in this. This is vital parent work.
A friend posted this week that she felt as though her school decision was a choice between her kids’ physical health and their mental health.
That’s impossible. That’s real.
And yet, you are doing it. You are the mom – you are the dad. You move forward even when it seems insurmountable, hopeless, bleak. These are the trenches of parenting.
You will figure this out. You will come to a decision that is best for your family. You will pay the cost – in pennies, hours, exhaustion, unasked for comments… You will adjust and adapt. You will do it.
Your kids will figure this out. They will settle into your decision because they trust you. They may pay as well – in being stretched, in frustration, in uncomfortable change… But they will reap too – in growth and strength and learning you cannot now imagine. They will do it!
So breathe. Remember how well you know your kiddoes. Be kind to yourself. Listen. Share. Hold plans loosely. Do the next, Right thing. And remind yourself:
Our family has developed several music playlists over the years. Most notably, there’s a “clean-the-house” hype, a “dance-party” jam, the “road-trip” set, and a “leave-mom-alone” warning loop. They are wildly varied and ever-evolving.
My moves aren’t pretty or particularly coordinated, but when a certain mood strikes or when it is called for (this is particularly effective in public) I lead the dancing. It’s silly and fun and generally shakes things up enough to reset the mood for the better. Heart, mind, body, and soul benefit.
Whatever works for you, for you and your children – you’ve chosen it at just the right moment – it is your dance. Great job parents – you’ve gotten through this bit together.
Did you play by yourself? Did you play with your friends? Did you play as a family? Regardless, the decision to play communicates the value of the essential life skill of recreation. Your playfulness brings light, well-being, and fun to your life and to your family. Enjoy.
Trying is a part of learning. This can be hard work – for them and for you.
You play a big part in this process. Supporting their growth, development, and education may mean encouraging, waiting, helping, allowing… it means providing tools, space, time… The tension of a problem contributes to finding the solution.
Great job dad, great job mom – you set the stage so that they could approach a totally new experience with confidence. And whether or not they liked it, finished it, or rocked it – they took a risk and learned from it.
Congratulation moms and dads – you gave your kiddo the gift of exploration and experimentation to understand their world. Evidenced by filthy fingernails, holes in the pants, and pockets full of natural treasures – the learning packed in this busy, happy, dirty day is priceless. A perfect day ends with a bath.
I used to savor the moment when all of my kids were buckled in and I shut the van door – I would take my time walking around the car BY MYSELF before we zipped off to the next thing. The children were safe and the tiny break was enough of a reset for my own mental health.
The bonus was (and is) that everyone gets a lesson in self-care, patience, and valuing each other. This is important and excellent parenting.
Who knew that part of your parenting job would be to teach your kiddo to wait while you go to the bathroom? But, on the other hand, who know that would be so fabulous?
Today we celebrate our fathers. We praise them with cards and treat them with breakfast in bed. But, especially today, we honor the fathers in our lives with congratulations, recognition, and commemoration. So share their stories:
Tell the one about what you did for your dad on Fathers Day, about when you had that special time, about when he covered for you, about the time he forgave you, about when he taught, helped, played…
You can tell the tricky ones too, gently. And tell the ones about the person stepped in as father for you.
And be sure to tell a bunch about your kiddo’s father (even is it’s you!) about when you first understood you were a dad, about when you made a dad mistake, about how proud you are to be their dad, about dad things you are looking forward to…
Family storytelling builds and reinforces the culture of your home. As you’ve told old and new dad stories today, you have built up your child’s understand of themselves and their history. This is great parenting – and fun too. Happy Father Day.