This parenting gig is hard work and most of the time, I feel like I am failing miserably. Very often, I end up regretting something I said or didn’t say. My parenting line up is often filled with mistakes and a long list of things I should have done better.
But sometimes, I get it right.
Tonight, my daughter was practicing her piano. She had been doing quite well with practicing daily and was getting so much better with her new song. Then we had a hectic week and she kept forgetting to practice. I forgot to remind her as well. So when she sat down tonight to play, she had forgotten a lot of song and it was choppy. After the fifth time of trying to get the last piece down, she burst into tears.
“I’m a failure! I was doing so good and now I can’t play it. I keep forgetting to practice and I’m making mistakes. I’ll never be able to play in the recital.”
At first, I just let her sit with me and cry. Hell, when you’re that frustrated, sometimes a good cry can really help. I tried to remind her that she did have it down at one point and with a little more practice, she would get there again, but when she gets this upset, it is often futile to attempt any type of reasoning. So I waited.
Luckily, the boy was downstairs doing backflips off the exercise ball onto the new couch and miscalculated. The screaming from downstairs was enough to snap my daughter out of her misery and focus on her brother’s. Once it was determined that the boy was not injured badly (scraped knee) and we were all in agreement that he was a bonehead, things seemed back to normal.
My daughter came up to me and said: Sometimes I just get so nervous when I have to play in front of people. I can feel myself start to cry and shake and I am so afraid I will screw up.
Me: Remember that story we just read about the girl who was afraid of making mistakes? And the old man helping her said if you are uptight and afraid, the music won’t flow? We all get afraid about making mistakes, especially in front of other people. But music should be fun. You should play it because you enjoy it and it makes you feel good.
Daughter: I do enjoy it. I mean, I don’t want to do it when I grow up. I already know what I want to do when I grow up. I guess I’m lucky because I already know.
Me: Just because you don’t want to play music professionally, doesn’t mean you can’t do it. I love art, but I don’t make money doing it. I do it because it makes me happy. And you may know what you want to do now, but that could change. Growing up and knowing what you want to do doesn’t mean just how you want to earn money. Life is about how you want to make a mark on the world. Its about finding what you want to do to make a difference in the world while you are here. I wish I had figured that out earlier.
Daughter: But you are making a difference in the world. You’re my mom.
Insert harp music and soft radiant light here. She really made me take a step back and pause.
Parenting is like performing on a stage. You are constantly afraid to make a mistake in front of a crowd. We often feel judged about how we raise our kids. We are bombarded with people telling us how to parent. Don’t feed your kids this. Teach your kids that. If you don’t do this, your kid will never succeed, get a job, go to college, learn to self regulated, be responsible, (insert whatever other the guilt trip you’ve heard here). How the hell are you suppose to ever feel good about the job you’re doing with so many voices out there saying you suck? I do a perfectly good job on my own with the negative talk, thank you very much. I don’t need a whole backup band adding any more to the melody.
After she went to bed, I was cleaning up the kitchen and notice something on the frig.
She had written down what I had said to her. Even put my name down as the author. When I saw that, I did a double take. I was truly shocked. That one thing I said had meant enough to her that she stopped and wrote it down so she could remember it. It was one of those Lifetime movie parenting moments you never really think happen in the real world. Most of the time, my words fall on deaf ears. I’m constantly wondering how the hell my kids are ever going to be productive adults in this world when most of the time, they can’t find their way out of a paper bag. Then something like this happens and all the little pieces fall into place.
That’s when you finally realize….. I got one right.