"Oh man, I should not have yelled like that. But 30 minutes to get dressed...UNREAL!"
Does that sound familiar to anyone - Losing your temper simply because something was seemingly taking forever? This was me today; A parent who was at the end of his rope while trying to get his kids dressed to go outside. Like most parents I hate yelling, but sometimes it just happens because children challenge parents from the moment they wake up to the moment they crawl into bed (and beyond). Picky eating, no desire to get dressed, seeing what can and cannot flush down a toilet...you name it and kids will challenge it. And for any parent that says that their kids are perfect little angels who always listen and behave, I'm calling BS because kids are kids and they are supposed to explore their world while testing their surroundings (sorry - rant over).
Think back to when you first learned that you were going to be a parent. Before the sleepless nights and the constant disaster of a house. Before the losing of the temper and instantly regretting it. Is this what you expected of yourself - feeling like you're constantly annoyed and losing your temper more often than you care to admit ? I'm guessing not. I remember telling myself that I'm going to be the type of Dad who has infinite patience and understanding; the type of Parent that we all aspire to be. I told myself to settle for nothing less as all children deserve our absolute best. Oh how naive I was...
Did you do the same thing - A checklist of the type of parent you'd be? Strict but fair, ever patient, always engaged, feeding the kids only healthy food with very limited screen time, etc. Sound familiar? I'm guessing that reality is a bit different than your pre-parent expectations. The sleepless nights have turned into exhaustion and low-patience. The constantly messy house has become an eyesore and a source of annoyance. The daily emotional roller-coaster has been more draining than you could have ever imagined and sometimes the TV is you kids' best friend.
"There is no such thing as a perfect parent. So just be a real one." - Sue Atkins
I try my absolute best most days, but there are some days where I just don't care to be the parent that I know I should be. Some days I feel like sitting on the couch all day and giving the kids snacks like I'm giving away candy on Halloween. I think we've all felt like this from time to time because the parenting struggle is real, especially now during this never ending pandemic. And when I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel the fear that creeps into my mind is that I am somehow screwing up my children because of my actions - being impatient, wanting a break, letting them watch an extra episode of their favorite TV show, losing my temper, etc. My wife would say that I'm being too hard on myself, but I just can't help it.
But if you think about it, the reality is that quality and honest parenting is conveyed through all of our actions - the good and the bad. When our kids grow up and leave the house they'll face a world of people, relationships, emotions, personalities, etc which they must navigate on their own. It is only through our honest parenting will our kids be prepared to face the realities of being an adult, how to interact with others, when to take a break, how to communicate in multiple ways, etc. If our kids only see happy, perfect parenting and marriage then they won't be prepared for the reality that things can be very messy and emotions can run high. It's a hard lesson to digest as we all want the best for our children, but we have to remember that the best isn't always what's needed.
So while I still strive for a high bar and feel regret at falling short, my wife's advice of "don't be too hard on yourself' is 100% on point. Being a good parent doesn't mean being perfect every day. Being a good parent means constantly getting up and trying again even when you've made a mistake.