Photos by Christoph Walters
“At every step the child should be allowed to meet the real experience of life; the thorns should never be plucked from the roses.” - Ellen Key
Ms. Key makes a fine point in that while we may try our hardest to be the perfect parent, we must demonstrate compassion not only for others in life, but also for ourselves when we think we have fallen short. When I take inventory at the end of each day spent with my children, yes, I can focus on what I didn’t do correctly- the fact that I was impatient with my daughter even though she just wanted my attention, or that I opted to do chores instead of play, or that I yelled at a silly glass of spilled water. But what I am beginning to remember to give myself credit for, are the amends that I make and the realities that I am demonstrating. Life isn’t a fairy-tale. Mommy isn’t perfect and neither are our children. Isn’t is more valuable to teach them that it is ok to make mistakes because in making mistakes we learn to be humble, we learn to forgive, and we learn that what works for you may not work for someone else?
As an adult and parent myself, when I reflect on my own parents and what they brought to the table, I can do so with an appreciation that they were doing the best that they could with what they had at the time. Yes, I have memories of times that were less than warm and fuzzy, but I can also appreciate the effects of sleep deprivation, financial hardships, marital stress, emotional noise, and inexperience. Parenting is a mixed bag, but in its most basic state it is unconditional love, starting your day over as many times as necessary, saying “ I love you” no matter what.