We Are Not Parents of the Year
We had the unique experience of raising children in two different stages of our life. Our first go-round was the typical road to parenthood. We were a young, new family with many ideas for parenting. It looked so simple. Our friends were doing it. We identified what we would do to parent like our friends. Yet, on the other hand, we quickly recognized what we would do differently from our friends. We would be doing it better than anyone who had gone before us, or so we thought.
It wasn’t long into our parenting journey when we found out it was much simpler on paper. The hardest part was trying to keep our family picture perfect. The impossible was our goal. Impressions meant everything. The opinions of others were like our compass. We were keeping up with the Jones’s. This was an exhausting way to parent. We enrolled our children in sports, clubs, and activities. They had fine gadgets and fancy bikes. Our son wore the most advertised sporting shoes on the market, and our daughter owned horses fine enough to win those blue ribbons.
As our children grew older, they became individuals. Our dreams and goals were not their dreams and goals. They deviated from our plan and made their own. Their friends were a reflection of the individuals that they had become. The choices they made for their future were theirs to make. We had to concede and let go.
Our second opportunity came some twenty-plus years later. With two children grown and now raising another, our family had changed, and so too had our parenting ideas. We made the conscious choice to do things differently. Our mindset has changed with age. After all, who are the Jones’s anyway? Impressions and opinions mean nothing, and there is no such thing as perfection.
This time we didn’t use other families as a measure to live up to. Our family unit is its own entity and is not comparable to others. There is no family exactly like ours. We are unique. Comparing to any other family would be like apples to oranges. When we consciously chose this mindset, we chose the path of less stress.
The parents we have become are happy to say that we are not in the race. We are not up for any parenting awards. Our best is measured by our own ability. If we have done everything we know to be right, it’s a success.
Not only are we not running the race, but we are moving through life at a turtle’s pace. It’s almost like stepping out of a Lamborghini and buckling into a Fiat. Our child is not enrolled in every club, sport, and activity. Yet we are home to have dinner together every single night.
It’s OK to embrace the mistakes and take ownership of them. We are not perfect, nor are we trying to be. Sometimes we forget to send library books in on time or misplace a permission slip. The difference now is that the guilt is not there.
Our success as a parent will not be measured by comparing our child to others. Our experience has taught us to recognize that our child is an individual. He will be different from his classmates. He will be different from either of us. We now know that we don’t have to strive to be the parents of the year.
We are proud not to be parents of the year.