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What’s wrong with my kids? The people around me seem to have children who are practically perfect in every way. They are perfect students, Olympic level athletes, they are always responsible and mature, they never screw up, and everywhere they go they bring rainbows and sunshine. They get close to perfect scores on their SAT’s and are accepted to every college they apply to. They never have issues with friends, conflicts with their siblings, disobey or disrespect their parents.
I’m recently finding myself silent as others go on and on about their perfect children. I listen to their stories with a smile yet inside I feel the shame and embarrassment of my family’s shortcomings – mainly our lack of perfection. Why aren’t my kids perfect too? Where did I fail my children? What did I do wrong? The truth is, my children aren’t perfect and I don’t want to pretend they are. Realistically I know that there’s no way everyone else’s children are the epitome of perfection their parents present to the world, so why do they do it? Has it always been this way or is it a new phenomenon? Are they better parents than me because they look at their children through such rose-colored glasses and see perfection where others might see something entirely different?
I am a very honest person. Honest to a fault. What you see is what you get. I don’t pretend to be someone I’m not and I don’t pretend to have things I don’t. Carrying on some kind of facade would be utterly exhausting and too much for me to handle. I’m also honest about my kids; maybe too honest. I missed the memo that says I’m only supposed to share my children’s successes and triumphs and hide their screw-ups and failures or the memo that said my children aren’t supposed to fail or screw-up in the first place.
I’m not trying to trash my kids to the world, but I need to talk and express my frustrations, disappointments, and fears. I want to be able to get things off my chest, seek advice, or just be heard without feeling like a loser. I want someone to commiserate with when things aren’t going well, not feel like a failure for it and certainly not feel alone in the world by sharing the truth.
I have only one friend who I truly feel I can tell all of my dirty little secrets to and never worry for a second that she is judging me or going to make me feel like a failure for what I share. In fact, she’ll often have a story to share that is similar and on occasion she can top what I’m going through with a story about one of her kids. And, I know her kids. I’ve known them since they were born. They’re awesome kids – really smart good kids – and so are mine – but some days they just suck!
I love my kids with everything I have. But, some days I really don’t like them. Luckily, these feelings usually don’t apply to all three children at once. Some days I want to lock myself in my closet and not come out. Some day I fantasize about sending them away to boarding school. There have been many days I proposed to my husband that we leave the kids everything we have – all of our money, cars, our house – everything – and run away. There are days when I wonder why I ever had kids at all and I think about how I could be living in a condo on the beach, traveling the world with my husband. Thank goodness, for the most part there are also many more wonderful days in between the awful ones. Days where I look in on them sleeping and can’t imagine my life without them. Days when their smiles melt my heart. Days where I can’t wait to see what they will accomplish next. Days where I love them or miss them so much I think my heart will burst. One of my biggest problems is I can only be as happy as my saddest child and some days it’s more than I can bear.
The truth is, my kids aren’t perfect – but they are perfectly normal. They’ve failed, lied, made mistakes, screwed up, had fights with their friends, had fights with their siblings, been selfish and uncaring, and disrespectful to their parents. They’ve also had many wonderful successes. They’ve each found their strengths and they’re figuring out how to use them to get them ahead in life. They’ve learned from their mistakes and they’re better because of them. They’ve made and maintained wonderful friendships and have been there for their siblings in ways that warm my heart. I’ve seen them be selfless and caring in situations where others have benefited and when they didn’t know anyone was watching.
We should give each other a break and give ourselves a break too. No one is perfect. No one’s lives are perfect. No one’s kids are perfect. No one is skating through life unscathed by hurt or disappointment. Why can’t we support each other in our failures and our triumphs? Why can’t we be honest and supportive? Why can’t we understand that bitching and complaining doesn’t mean you don’t love the people you’re bitching and complaining about? Listen without judgement. Try to relate to others and help those around you not feel so alone by opening your heart and being vulnerable. Rant over…thanks for listening to me…without judging me :).
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