Keeping the highs and lows in perspective by Roxane B. Salonen
The words came at me unexpectedly from the radio waves in my minivan, striking a chord with my mother-heart. “You’re not as bad a parent as your worst child, nor as good a parent as your best child.”
Not that we need to label our children “best” and “worst,” but I knew exactly what the radio host, a child psychologist and father of ten, was getting at. On a week I’m feeling particularly exasperated as a parent, it was a healthy reminder of the need to keep things in perspective.
I needed to recall that our children are not ours but on loan to us by our Creator. They are with us for but a time so we might both teach and learn from them; to both draw them near and release them.
The balance can be utterly elusive, but I think it’s important to increase our awareness of where we begin and others leave off. As women, our nurturing tanks are expansive. Whether we’re acting in the capacity of mother, sister or friend, the fine line exists between when we’re to assume responsibility for those around us and when it’s time to step aside, to surrender a bit of our part in things.
Earlier in my journey as a parent, I didn’t understand this. When my children messed up, I saw it as a full reflection on me and my parenting. I was devastated my children had not lived up to expectations and felt the judging eyes of my community each time they didn’t act in a perfect manner.
I realize now my perception was skewed by my misperceptions of my role as a mother and my children’s capabilities. My expectations had been too high for both of us from the beginning.
In time, I began to see that each of our kids has strengths and weaknesses, some innate and some fashioned in part by our family unit and beyond. Likewise, I realized our children’s actions were not necessarily a pure reflection of my mothering but a result of a complex set of circumstances. Similarly, when they perform well, it’s as much inborn, God-given talent and opportunity as parenting ability.
The recognition is clear now: I can’t take any more credit for my kids’ achievements than the failures they’ve procured. But rather than stymying me, the revelation has been freeing. Through it, I’ve been able to step back from competing for “Mom of the Year” award and accept the honor of “Just a Mom Doing the Best She Can” with contentment.
We’re not here to fashion perfect people. We’re here to love them in all of their imperfections, and hopefully, to be loved by them in ways they are capable of expressing it.
Even though I’ve learned a few things through the years in this journey, each day seems another opportunity for more lessons. Case in point: Today I had a really rough day with my teen son. By the end of it, I was ready to admit full-out defeat. And then, as I was letting the tears flow in the presence of my husband, this same child came to where we were talking to thank me for a small act I’d done for him earlier that day.
“Do you realize he just told you he loves you?” my husband said as our son walked away.
“I guess you’re right,” I finally admitted with a sniffle.
Yep. Another lesson learned. The sooner we can recognize the humanity in our children, the sooner we can recognize our own.
I believe my words related to parenting can apply to many of our roles as women, whether in our work day as we go about the business of trying to harmonize with those around us, or at home as we move through the muck and miracles of family life.
Yes, we can and should rejoice when things go right, knowing we played a part, just as we should own up to where we may have contributed to a disappointment without assuming too much blame. Or, as another wise person in my life said recently, “Don’t let the highs get too high or the lows get too low.”
It’s good to keep life and our contributions in it, for better or worse, in perspective. In this way, we free ourselves to live authentic lives.
My heartfelt thanks to Roxane for providing us with great perspectives on parenting as we continue our journey to authenticity! Roxane blogs at http://roxanesalonen.blogspot.com