Being a parent isn't easy, its filled with trials and tribulations that lead to extreme frustration. We want the best for our kids, we want to be perfect, and yet, we fall short. Parents are only human, we make mistakes and feel guilt over it for years. We second guess our decisions, we bend over backwards to make our kids happy, only to feel unappreciated and taken for granted.
My oldest is just hitting the pre-teen years, it feels like he's been there forever. My youngest is always demanding more and more of everything and anything. Some days I feel like no matter what I do, it's not enough. I've come up short and I've missed the boat. The constant demands of this blood sucking duo at times can leave me empty. Yet, when I think I have nothing left to give they say, "Thank you mom, I love you" and I find that my bucket is full to the brim with so much more to give them.
Everyday is filled with decisions affecting our family. We try hard to put on a facade of perfection to those outside, but it's a lie. Every family, no matter how perfect they look, has problems, issues, and make mistakes. Trying to be perfect causes more stress and problems then just admitting your human. Every family yells, hurts each others feelings, makes bad decisions, wants more, needs more, and find themselves in situations they never thought they'd be in.
What all parents need to do is give themselves a break. Kids grow up to be who they choose to be and as long as you did your best, you loved them, and were there to support them when they needed you - you were the perfect parent. As long as you didn't beat them, abuse them, or misuse them, you were the perfect parent.
So parents pick up the phone and call your parents and say "Thank you for being the perfect parents." After all, we were kids once and weren't the easiest little people to raise. Forgive the little mistakes and frustrations you have with your parents because guess what - your making mistakes and frustrating your kids now.
This post was originally from 2010 and yes I made my fair share of mistakes. My kids broke my heart because they grew up and I broke theirs many times over. The only thing that hasn't changed since then, my cup runneth over with giving whenever they say 'Mom, I love you.'
When your child has special educational needs, you'll fight to make sure he gets the best education possible. When I was in school, too many years to count, schools were starting to address learning disabilities and special needs. Schools were still a one size fits all method with an emphasis on written analysis of a child's knowledge. Today there are so many options and various programs for children with a vast array of learning disorders.
In Alberta there are so many schools to choose from that I found it a little overwhelming. French Immersion, German Immersion, Spanish Immersion, International French, Science focused, Math focused, traditional, for gifted students, for sports students, and what we finally choose - Fine Arts based.
I wanted to make sure my son got the best education for his special needs and I finally found it. Since birth he was always ahead when it came to developmental milestones by months. In kindergarten and grade one his teachers were amazed by his reading and verbal abilities and mentioned that he may be gifted. In grade 2 his teacher noticed that although he was very skilled verbally and read at a grade 4 level, his writing was below his age level and he was having problems staying focused in class.
The teacher suspected ADD - don't they all! Thankfully the school administration is very proactive in assessing children's needs and didn't just arbitrarily label him ADD because the psychologist was able to discover that he was bored and had a hard time processing what he wanted in written format. Granted he does have a huge imagination and spends a lot of time in it, but he doesn't have ADD.
I am very thankful that there are so many options out there for families who want to offer their children an education that is different from the one size fits all type. Although my son's former school did everything they could to meet his needs and provide him with help, it was limited because of the number of children with different needs. Last year he was different, the only one in a class of over 20 that needed a scribe and had special computer privileges. Now there are 10 kids in his class who receive a photocopy of the class notes to help them follow along and he's not the only one who can't get his written journal done. This has improved his self esteem because he doesn't feel alone or special anymore. This school is amazing and I am grateful that it is available for children like my son.
My son is special and I want the best for him, but trying to find the best school for him is stressful. I went to an orientation this evening and although it sounds wonderful I am having a hard time making a decision.
St. John's Fine Arts school has a great reputation and a wonderful program, but will it work best for my son's needs? Presently he is in grade 3 at our local neighbourhood school along with my daughter, she's in Kindergarten. The neighbourhood school has a fine arts based curriculum (but is not a fine arts school) and it has provided my son with the resources he needs. He has only one more year at this school before he will be shipped out to a middle school that is not fine arts based for two years. Next year would be the last year that both my kids will be in the same school if my son stays where he is.
If he goes to St. John's then he'll be there for the next three years and then will go on to a fine arts jr. high. It is set up like a jr high where teachers teach based on subjects and the kids have more than one teacher and this makes it easier for them when they go into jr. high.
They enable the children to express themselves in many different ways, drama, music, dance, and art. Everything is project based and all the classes work together to build on each other. For example socials curriculum influences art classes and visa versa.
The school is downtown about 30 minutes without rush hour and it's Catholic and we're not. Although I love the idea of religion and prayer in the school, I've never gone to Catholic school and don't know what to expect.
My son is gifted visually and extremely gifted verbally, he has a processing learning disability. What this means is that he gets the lessons quick, he has these amazing thoughts processes but he cannot write them on paper very well. Trying to find a school where he will flourish and expand his potential is stressful because I don't know where he will fit best.
The city has schools for gifted kids, but I'm not sure if my son would fit because he's not an academic kid and has a learning disability. There are also science based, math based, French and Spanish immersion, hockey based, and a variety of other options out there. All these options make it hard to know which is the best and it becomes stressful, every mother wants their child to excel and worry's about their education.
Ever feel like a terrible mother? Whenever someone says a judgemental comment about my parenting I automatically think "Am I a Bad Mother?" I afford my children too many liberties sometimes and I pick too few battles. I spend too much time working and too little time playing with them. I'm not highly organized around the house and don't do laundry on a regular enough basis.
Sure I'm not perfect, I never claimed to be. I love my children and I offer them a different education then most kids get. In meetings they sit and listen and learn about work and business. I'm blessed because they do sit so nicely for a longer time then most children their age and they are rewarded for it.
Every parent is not perfect we all make mistakes. Parenting is not easy and we could all use help not judgement. Look at your attitude, do you offer help or criticism when you see a parent struggling? Do you open your heart to others or turn your back if they don't fit into your image?
Try something new, offer helpful advice when asked and help when not. Try being a positive beacon to those in your life, offering encouragement and a helping hand. I was on my own with my kids for 5 months with only 2 hours a day without my kids. It is lonely and hard work being a single mom. If you know a single mom offer to help by babysitting or taking the kids to the park. It will make a big difference to the single mom and the kids. Instead of judging her and criticising, try helping instead.
We all want to be accepted, to be praised as amazing moms, but if all you do is judge and put down others why should anyone praise or help you?
Ever feel like you're not measuring up as a mother? Do you wonder if you are messing up your kids chances in life and never do enough for them? I always have too much on my plate and then I get so tired I can't do anything. The guilt starts to seep in and I start to feel like a terrible mother.
So what makes a terrible mother? Are we terrible if our kids don't get to bed on time? What if they don't get to school on time every day? What if some of their dinners are cereal? Homework not always done or they don't read every night?
Parents are overwhelmed, especially if they both work. Single moms have a huge burden to shoulder with very little help. Does beating ourselves up or judging ourselves against others or a perfect ideal help or hinder mothers?
I have some days where everything works and I have the energy and time to devote to everything, it doesn't take much though for my schedule to fall apart and the kids routines to crumble. When I get so tired I can't think straight and I feel like I'm constantly waking myself up as I go through my day I can't help but be a terrible mom. My kids deserve the best but I can't always give my best, I know it doesn't make me the world's worst mom and it is during this time I shower them with love. Feeling guilty about not doing the things that mothers should do pushes me to hug them more, kiss them more, tell them how much they mean to me and that I am sorry things aren't the way they need to be right now.
At 10:00am I told my kids to brush their teeth and shower, I had a meeting with the bank at 12:30. I needed to finish up my business plan before we left, at 12:15 I called the bank and rescheduled. Not only did they not brush their teeth or have a shower they made a huge mess.
My next meeting was 3:00 and a realtor was bringing some people through to view the house. So now they had to clean up and brush their teeth and have a shower. I have to stand over them for them to do anything. I started asking them to get their shoes on at 2:30 while I ran around tidying up and cleaning whatever I could see, by 2:45 I was screaming at them to get their shoes on and get into the car. At 2:50 two crying kids buckled themselves into the car and we were off.
I was exhausted and stressed beyond my limits was I asking too much of my kids? I am very lucky because whenever I have a meeting and take them with me no matter how long the meeting is they are quiet, good, and sit still the whole time. Longest meeting this week was 3 hours long and they were good the whole time. They love each other and play together very well, they rarely fight and when they do it lasts all of 2 minutes. I am lucky and I need to remember that, even when they are not doing what I asked of them.
I do not want to have to stand over them constantly to get them to brush their teeth, shower or clean up. I want them to be responsible for themselves and their environment. So I need to change tactics. By utilizing currency to ensure they do what they have to do before they get what they want seems to work. When I say currency I don't mean money exactly, I mean what is of value to them. For my kids it's Nintendo DS, computer time, and tv. Those things of value to them that they can have access to only once they have finished what I asked them to do.
Kids are frustrating, afterall it's their job to drive their parents crazy. Creative problem solving will help parents to be less frustrated by inspiring their children to act. What tricks or tools work will depend on each child and only the parent will know which trick will work best for their child. It takes energy, time, and creative thought to find the trick and once you have figured it out, your child will change and it won't work anymore. Welcome to parenthood.
Shannon Peel is an author, marketing specialist, and content creator. She is also a single middle aged empty nester living downtown Vancouver.