Good parenting requires us to be willing to look inward and do the hard work of growing. Our children have a way of showing us both the best and worst of ourselves. Sometimes, this happens through a child bringing much needed perspective. Today this meant that a child pointed out that I wasn’t being generous in how I was interpreting something, instead assuming the worst of another. Often these corrections are hard for me to swallow. Instead, I take their words in, spin them around, and spit them back out after crafting them into what seems like a fine defense. But as I deliver those carefully crafted words, they crumble to the floor, like a cookie in the hands of a 2-year-old. And so, I’m forced to face the ways I fail, the faults I try so hard to hide.
Other times, this growth can come through challenges. Our children’s unique needs can sometimes stretch us so thin we are certain we will break. For me, my children’s mental health challenges have a way of doing this to me. Internal pain and struggle so often manifest outwardly – and often directed at me. Instead of being a balm for their pain, my responses often make things worse. I try patience, silliness, firmness, redirection, bribing – all to no avail. My toolbox of strategies depleted, I start all over again until the calm demeanor I have pasted on my face begins to melt. And then, we have not just one but two dysregulated people in the house. And yet again, I am forced to face the ways I fail, the faults I try so hard to fail.