There are quite a few things you learn when you first take on the role of parent and the one that I remember and repeat most frequently is - you are always going to screw up.
In one way or another, on someone's scale, or your own, you will always feel like you could have done better. And, of course, you really wish you had because these are the people who mean the most to you. The great news is, as long as you aren't truly horrible, and I know you aren't, your kids love you just as much as you love them. You are partners in resiliency. You are their sun and they are your flowers. As much as you give them, they will return to you tenfold. This comes with the hardest of lessons as well as the easy times.
Here are the 5 most important (at this moment) things I've learned so far:
1. We are a council, not the Chief when it comes to our growing children.
There was a time when they didn't have the knowledge to make any real decisions for themselves (think back to the constant suicide missions when learning to walk ), but hopefully, if we're doing our job right, as children grow, our job transitions from Chief, to that of council. The knowledge that these wonderful little people gain as they grow is equipping them to take more responsibility for their decisions and actions. They are all entitled to their own regrets and successes, just as we were, and we sure learned a lot from them.
Playing the chief won't get you very far, when you have raised your children to be independent. I just learned this, it was powerful.
2. Talking when I should have been listening.
These children as so wise. I sometimes wonder if we have it all backwards and they are the real soul leaders. When you're at your busiest, fully enlisted in the chaos of life, one of these little farts will drop the most profound insight that will stop you in your tracks. They really do have a larger vision for the macro picture. Of course, they don't know how to secure a real estate deal, open a bank account or become a savvy investor, let's leave all that fun stuff to us (insert eye roll). But, what they do have is a tremendous well of empathy and understanding for all beings. What you can learn from the way they see things, is truly remarkable. I wish I had spent more time listening and still strive to hear more as they grow. My two sons knock me off my feet with the way they approach life. I love to learn from them....after they make their beds.
3. Having too many outside influences will impact how you raise your children.
Parenting your children is as individual as you and your children are. They are so unique that they'll keep you on your toes by changing daily, sometimes hourly! This was one of the aspects of being a parent that left me feeling drained, raging and resentful. Why couldn't I be as sweet and soft as this mom or have the kind of support that mom does. You don't have to be anyone other than who you are. Trying to be someone different is going to cause you stress that you can save for other areas of your life. If you have too many opinions rolling around in your head, you are short changing the unique love that you and your children share. In parenting and in life, don't let someone's opinion of you, stop you from being you. The world needs more authenticity.
4. I was a rage monster and I liked it.
Oddly enough, not being able to control my temper kept me feeling in control of my world. If I could rage and get a reaction, I could change my situation. This is both masochistic and damaging to others. If you are using rage as a form of control, there's something that needs to be looked at. Maybe, if you're anything like me, you're a martyr. You do things because you love to help and give, but, then when you don't allow yourself to receive, you rage. It's a bit of a helpless state for everyone involved. Do them and you a favour and take time for you, ask for help, get help, tell people you're not ok. This was something that I hid from everyone except those who got to see me come undone. If this is you, I feel you, you need to reach out and get some of that heavy shit off your chest.
Being a reactive parent is a regretful parent (trust me, I'm the queen). Those are the times that I play over in my mind and the times that I know I have shaped who my children are. Don't get lost in the guilt cycle, though. Get better, make changes, forgive yourself and trust that the greater good prevails, if you're doing your work.
5. Not being vulnerable.
Not with just anyone, but with my children. I always wanted them to know that I was their protector and that if anyone messed with them, boy oh boy, they have got another thing coming. This approach had me in a constant state of fight. My nervous system was hijacked and I was a mess. I couldn't let down the wall I worked so hard to build up. It was too unsafe. If I could be vulnerable this moment, someone would get me. Someone would take advantage of me. I prided myself on being their lion but it only took me further away from my heart. I love those kids and I want them to know that they're safe, we're all safe. I finally learned that I didn't have to live in anxiety and fear. I surrounded myself with people who are rock solid and created boundaries that make me feel safe and am able to be vulnerable with those who deserve it.
At the end of the day, whether you're making the same mistakes I am, or you've got your own demons, don't let your reflections be on what you did wrong. Instead, let them be about what you did right. This is true in child rearing and in life. Your mind is a powerful tool and if you spend your free time feeling guilty and ruminating on what could have been, you're wasting precious moments. Moments that could be focused on growth and success, however that looks to you.