Some days end and I’m disappointed in myself as a parent. I feel like I’ve come up short and the defeat feels crushing. Maybe I’ve responded too sharply to a predictably child-like infraction. Maybe I haven’t listened as closely as I should have when my child tried to tell me something he considered important which I found to be ill-timed in the scheme of my schedule. I look at his sleeping body and wonder why I didn’t savour more of the moments. He’s growing up so fast, as those who have been there before—only more successfully, it seems—are quick to remind me. I lay a kiss on his forehead and promise myself I will be a better mom tomorrow.
Tomorrow comes and finds me inattentive, not engaged enough, or forgetful of some administrative detail of his life. I feel bad that I let something slip my mind and let him down somehow. I hate to see the look of disappointment in his face. I tell myself I am teaching him about forgiveness but wonder if perhaps the lessons need to be so frequent. The house isn’t as clean as I would like and maybe that’s a lesson in understanding our limitations and the need for team work to tackle insurmountable problems. I should probably have a more detailed routine, I chastise myself silently, picking up something left on the floor.
Parenting seems to be an exercise in demonstrating how to handle the feeling that you are never quite good enough, often from first hand experience. It is a lesson in grace. I hear myself telling him as we rehash the details of his latest mischief, “Everybody makes mistakes, it’s what we learn from it that’s important.” He feels so bad when he falls short of his own expectations and I realize I’m not just telling him that he needs to move on, but I’m also telling myself. Parenting is about going back to basics and re-learning old lessons every day.
Some days are disappointing, but like my son, I’m learning from my mistakes and I’m glad he’s not too sharp with me. I’m grateful I can coax him to take off his headphones long enough for me to tell him the things that are important to me, even if my interruption is ill-timed. I’m thankful for the opportunity to tuck him in every night. He’s growing up so fast, but with all the things he’s taught me, so am I. We will have more moments to savour and I know deep down that I will be a better mom tomorrow.