48 hours from now I will be the mother of a high schooler.
You may be nodding your head in I-am-so-right-there-with-you-sister emphathy. Or you might be shaking your head thinking I-am-so-far-away-from-that-moment-it-doesn’t-seem-real. Or you are thinking she’s that old, huh? No. No I am not. Time has stood still and I am barely older than the first day I met my husband, I swear.
Somehow, all summer long, I’ve been in denial about high school. 8th grade to 9th grade is only a +1, right? Yet here we are. I remember his first day of preschool. And his first day of kindergarten. And the rest has become a blur of birthdays, wiggled out baby teeth, scraped knees, hurt feelings, summer camps, homework, and puberty.
So you might think I’d spend this time writing about how fast the time flies. Or implore you to enjoy every moment. I’m not going to do either.
Instead, Iet’s talk about guilt.
I didn’t save every piece of childhood art. I didn’t attend every cross country meet. I didn’t throw the surprise party I had planned in my mind for his 13th birthday. (sorry about that, Cole).
Yet somewhere along the way I did stumble into knowing that guilt has no place in parenting.
The possibilities for guilt are everywhere. I don’t cook as deliciously as Amanda. I don’t volunteer as extraordinarily as Jackie. I don’t urban adventure as spontaneously as Kelli. I don’t explore mother nature as fearlessly as Carie. I don’t roll with life and laugh as generously as Deb. This list goes on. Each of you is on it, doing something better, more, easier, with your kids than I do.
But guilt is not banished through perfection.
The days I am the most relaxed, most joyful, most helpful, most able to see the big picture, the days when I am parenting the best? Those are the days when I am me–with no comparisons and no guilt.
Over all these years, the decisions I have made, the mistakes I have made, were all mine. I can celebrate them. Or learn from them. Or laugh at them. But I no longer hold on to them too tightly. Or allow them to keep me company in the dark, when the rest of the house is asleep.
Guilt implies a crime. But there is no perfect parenting. So judging ourselves against the impossible only serves to add misery, doubt and shame. No. More.
48 hours from now I will be the mother of a high schooler. I wonder what lessons we both will learn in the handful of years we have left together. I’m sure some of them will find their way into love notes. But for today, remember, no matter the age of your children. No. More. Guilt.
love the new love note? we’ve updated the style. what do you think? you can pin it!
What twists your gut with parenting guilt? How can you look away from it and come back to yourself and the strengths you bring to parenting? When was a time when you kicked guilt to the curb? We each have a story. I’d love to hear yours.