Monday, June 3, 2013

How to be "a better version of the person that you actually are"

Oh, no. I don't know how. I was hoping you knew. I was asking, um, for a friend!

Actually, it's a quote from this blog post I read over at HuffPo, although it's making the rounds of the internet right now. If you haven't read it yet...

To parents of small children: Let me be the one who says it out loud


You’re not a terrible parent.

You’re an actual parent with limits. You cannot do it all. We all need to admit that one of the casualties specific to our information saturated culture is that we have sky-scraper standards for parenting, where we feel like we’re failing horribly if we feed our children chicken nuggets and we let them watch TV in the morning.


One of the most rewarding things about having kids is the way it forces you to face your own shortcomings and encourages you to work harder to rise above them for the sake of your children. There are other life events that can have the same effect on a person's soul, but child-rearing will inevitably hold that mirror up to make you take a long, cold, hard look at yourself. And if you are already a bit self-critical, as I am, even healthy personal growth can still feel like the whip's lash.

In the end, I have to remind myself that I'm a human being and limited. There will always be a long list of things that I can't do or can't bear to force myself to do. I can't be the perfect mother for my girls every day. I'm not even perfectly myself every day, and being their mom is only one of the things that I am (doing poorly). It's good that they have a lot of other, different, kinds of people in their lives.

Because I am great at encouraging them to eat well, but I am terrible at encouraging them the make friends with strange kids on the playground.

I excel at reading to my kids and teaching them to love books. I dread (and have avoided) having to sacrifice my own free time for their involvement in organized sports.

I am super at being prepared for any contingency. I am awful at rolling with the punches.

I am good at comforting them when they are truly hurt or scared, but I am unable to keep from rolling my eyes at their petty grievances and irrational fears.

They always have clean underwear and signed school forms. However, I'm not a very good listener.

Even when I'm the most impatient with them I surely have far less patience for myself.

I am hopeful that my love will force me to be kinder to all of us, myself included.


For a long time now, whenever I get in one of these self-punishing moods about my parenting or anything else, I remind myself about the Pigasus.

John Steinbeck used the Pigasus as a symbol of himself, and even had a stamp made of it, along with the Latin inscription "Ad astra per alia porci" (To the stars on the wings of a pig). If the great John Steinbeck can define himself as "earthbound, but aspiring," then I too can be a little porky, but hoping to fly.

I should get this tattooed on my butt.

You have to laugh.

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