I know it's silly, once I sit down and put it into words. But my actions and feelings betray the truth: I feel as if I ought to be perfect, and that it's wrong if I falter. (So I end up feeling like junk almost all the time - each time I lose my temper, I see a big fat F on my parenting report card, every unwashed pile of laundry is an accusation, every crumb on the floor an affirmation that I am subpar.)
I was watching Sam play outside today, all by himself while Vava napped and Kachi played with his squeaky toys. He was painstakingly crafting mounds of dirt on top of the composter, handful by handful, arranging them just so. Volcanoes, he told me.
He is so good at playing all by himself.
A long time ago I read an article about boredom - how it's good for kids to have time to be alone by themselves without any organized activities: it makes gives them the chance to be alone in their thoughts, to try things they think of, to fail without an audience, to explore in a space that isn't filled with expectations - just to be.
I think if I hadn't read that, I'd be busy feeling guilty every moment I wasn't playing with him, or carting him to activities. (Not that they're bad - but they're not as vital as the soul space.)
And that got me thinking, until I realized what you all probably have known all along ...
The less-than-perfect parts of my parenting, of me, bring blessings too. Every time I lose my temper and apologize and ask forgiveness, I give my kids the chance to practice extending grace. Every time my hair is a horrifying mess and we still leave the house, I teach them that how you look is not the most important part of you. Every time I fall somewhere in the gap between what I think I should achieve and what I actually do achieve, I teach them that there is space to fail and the world still turns.
We're not perfect - we need grace, and we need to know how to extend grace.
It's the nicest, loveliest part of raising kids ... that they learn this beautiful lesson through my imperfections.
Those mythical perfect mamas don't have room for the current of grace that necessarily flows through my flaw-ful house. It only gets in through the cracks.
Dear Sam, Vava, and Kachi: I make lots of mistakes. You're welcome.