I am raising a seventeen year old teenager, along with two other strong, determined women. And, on most days, I feel pretty competent at how I parent. I feel protective, loving, open, and honest. I am grateful for the conversations that my teen and I share with one another. I feel scared, when it would seem logical to feel that way, and confident most of the rest of the time.
Today however, I felt differently. You see, I walk a very fine line between feeling fully confident in who I am as a parent, and feeling like a complete failure. And, on some days, like today, it only takes a light breeze to blow me off that line into the abyss. When I fall down this self described rabbit hole, even though I have plenty of people in my world to tell me otherwise, I feel like a complete failure.
You see, even when I think I am doing a pretty good job at navigating parenthood throughout adolescence, and beyond, I have self doubt. I wonder if I am royally messing it all up, or if I am hitting the mark. I envision myself as super human as a mom, at the same time that I have no idea what the hell I am doing.
So, tonight, I went down the hole, by thinking that all that I have done so far on behalf of my child is an epic failure, and that the shortcomings in my parenting will certainly bring ruin to the future that lies ahead of this brilliant human being. That if I am not doing it perfectly, by a standard other than my own, than I am failing. That I am never good enough and will never measure up. It is a thought train that I am willingly riding on, until I am not.
I take a long bath, until I am shriveled beyond recognition, I cry, hard and long, and then, I put on my jammies and decide that I have had enough. Decide that if I am going to have any effectiveness in my parenting, I have to trust and believe that I am doing right by my child. For the simple reason that I am only ever doing my best.
We have been facing some pretty challenging days recently. We are in new territory that I didn’t anticipate one year ago. Yet, we are learning, growing, changing and loving one another fiercely through it all. And, today, I learned two big lessons to take forward with me.
First, I need to trust and believe in what it is I am doing to raise a beautiful human being in this world, and that even if others around me might do it differently, it doesn’t mean, I am doing it wrong. It just means, we view it differently. The second, and more profound lesson for me, is that no matter what, I need to keep loving myself, as fiercely, consistently and openly as possible.
For, the truth is, I am only doing my best, in every moment. And, that always has to be enough.