How To Be A Better Parent All The Time At Everything

Loved this post. Hope you will too. Wish I’d read it twenty years ago!

How to be a better parent all the time at everything?? You can’t. The end.

Jess Basson

Dear Parent,

You’re probably thirty-something. You probably have a child or two under the age of four. You never knew you could feel SO MUCH LOVE, but you also never knew it was going to be THIS HARD. There are moments of sheer delight, but they’re often separated by long, mundane hours that range from busy to infuriating.

You feel guilty that you miss your pre-parent life. You wish you never lost your temper as often as you do. You know your spouse is supposed to be on the same team as you but often they feel like The Enemy.

But most of all, there is this nagging suspicion that you are messing it up.

mugIt being Parenthood, Your Child, Marriage, Life.

You used to feel like someone who could manage stress, who knew how to handle, who had a game plan. But between discipline and diet, health and safety, tantrums and tired…

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Touching

The morning started off very sweetly. My daughter, now 29, dropped her son off at school and swung by the house. I was still in bed. In my early-morning stupor, I tried to ask her something, and she decided what I was trying to say was that I needed to snuggle with her before she had to go. I didn’t object. Snuggling felt warm, and toasty and soft and delicious. I didn’t realize how much I missed that feeling. I was very affectionate with my kids–we slept together, cuddled, warm piles of limbs and elbows, tickles, plump cheeks and shinbones, knobby knees and tangled hair, morning breath and morning waking, a messy nest of love.

I first brought my daughter to bed with us when she was several months old, after I nearly dropped her one night while nursing her in the rocking chair, bone-weary from exhaustion. And there was no turning back, but it was mostly a good thing.  The kids didn’t see their dad much during the day, but we’d all be together at night, or at least by morning, the kids trickling in one by one as the night wore on, first the nursing baby, and then the siblings, little feet pitter pattering their way to our room in the dark.

My husband and I gave up our double bed, traded with the kids, pushed their twin mattresses together, and called it a king. I think that was before the bedbugs, but that’s another story.

Years later, as a single parent, the trend continued, my youngest refusing to stay for long in his own bed or his own bedroom. “But mom”, he pleaded with me once “you’re my love connection.”

Sometimes when I dream at night, my children are little again, at least for a while–they come to me unbidden, the memory true and undistorted–solid, clear, precise, in a way that my daytime memory cannot produce.

I wake with nostalgia, a sense of sweetness, wholeness, and loss in the same blurry exhale. And in those just-before-consciousness moments, I savor the knowledge that I wasn’t such a bad mother after all.

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