Just a moment for some serious business.
I've been thinking a lot lately about "good moms." Seems like a lot of parents I know feel like they're failing in one way or another. Or lots of ways. I know I do. I feel like a failure because I get so frustrated by behaviors that never change, that seem ingrained into the tiny personalities that I've brought into the world. And they're my kids, so I should love everything about them, right? And if I don't, then I'm a horrible parent. Right?
But this morning, after an email exchange with a friend who's struggling with some of those thoughts, I realized that we DON'T have to love everything about them. My kid is prone to angry outbursts. Sometimes he gets violent. He screams often. I don't have to love that. I can be frustrated with that, I can wish he didn't have that aspect of his personality. Sometimes I can even wish he would just chill out for two hours so I could drink my coffee without having to hear any yelling, or without having to argue with someone about why I don't feel like cooking a five-course breakfast at 6 a.m. And sometimes I can cry and think, "WHY ME?!" And that doesn't make me a bad person, or a bad parent.
The trick is remembering that they're people. Kids are people. And people are flawed. We don't have to love their flaws. We don't have to love their behaviors, or their morning breath, or the choices they make, or the friends they hang out with. We don't have to love the boyfriends and girlfriends they bring home. We don't have to love the way they sing at the top of their lungs in the pre-dawn hours, or the bedtime arguments about every little thing. We don't have to love the dried toothpaste they leave on the bathroom counter, or that super annoying baby voice they've recently discovered. We don't have to love it when they throw toys, or scream, or hit their siblings. None of those things require our love or acceptance. But we do have to LOVE THEM ANYWAY. It's not about loving all of who they are or what they do. It's about loving them anyway, regardless of who they are or what they do.
Our kids don't need our acceptance for everything they do. And if it's something that needs to change, by all means, we need to tell them, and try to help them change it. But they do need to know that thought everything, we love them anyway. That's all that matters.