It would be easy for people to look at me and think, “Well there’s a guy who is going nowhere.” I moved our family across the country twice within 11 months — the first time because I landed my “dream job”, and the second time because that “dream job” didn’t end up being all that dreamy. I’m certainly not perfect, and there’s a lot I don’t have figured out yet. But there’s one thing I DO know.
I’m incredibly flawed.
Knowing this helps keep me grounded. It reminds me that life isn’t about what you know, it’s about what you’re willing to learn. It helps me realize that in order to be a good dad, I can’t just wing it. I have to read, explore, and talk with other parents. I have to acknowledge when I could have handled situations better, learn from my mistakes, and celebrate the fun times and victories, no matter how small they may be. And having two daughters has helped me find wisdom in some of the most unexpected places. In fact, some of the most poignant and sage advice I’ve ever received is from Queen Elsa in Disney’s “Frozen.”
Let it go.
If you’re like me and you go to bed at night feeling like you didn’t play with your kids enough, or maybe you were too harsh when they spilled their milk, or maybe they cried themselves to sleep because they wanted a bedtime cookie, there’s only one thing you can do: Let it go.
Like I said, I’m not perfect, so even as I write this I’m reflecting on all the guilt I carry as a parent. It’s not easy to look back on all your mistakes or shortcomings and just let them all go. I get that. But you can start in this moment. What’s eating at you right now? Did you slack this week on helping them with their spelling homework and they performed horribly on their test? Let it go. Did you feed them crap all week because your schedule is so busy that you barely have time to even think about cooking? Let it go.
You’ll probably never hear me give advice on healthy eating habits for the whole family or easy ways to incorporate 30 minutes of yoga into your busy day. But what you can expect to hear from me is practical, real advice for the busy parent—from someone who’s been there. All too often you see parenting advice on the internet that either assumes you stay at home with your kids or have enough money to afford a nanny (or housekeeper). But for so many of us, that’s not real.
What’s real is having both spouses working 40 hours, with an hour-long commute both ways, barely enough time to get homework done, dinner cooked, messes picked up, baths, reading, and whatever else you must take care of nightly. And let’s be honest, yes, you could do a lot of the housekeeping sort of tasks after the kids go to bed. But by the time the kids go to bed, you’re exhausted. Believe me, I understand.
We’re all flawed. You wouldn’t know that from scrolling through your Facebook feed and reading about your friends’ “perfect” lives and their “perfect” spouses and their “perfect” kids. But trust me, even the most perfect-on-the-outside families struggle with some of the same issues you do.
So hang in there. Check in with me regularly and we’ll get through this parenting thing together. We’ll help each other realize we’re not alone in our struggles. This will be a safe place for you to come when you feel like you’ve messed up, ruined your kids’ lives, or otherwise feel like a failure. Together, we’ll get through some of the most difficult struggles of our lives and become better parents by learning to forgive ourselves.
Together, we’ll thrive.
Originally published at medium.com