Imperfect Parenting

“There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one”

~Jill Churchill

Just a few minutes ago I heard a squeal from the kitchen and I knew immediately that K had seen a mouse. Such is country life.

I am completely disgusted by rodents and have a pretty strong phobia- even seeing them on TV makes me uneasy. I have tried to overcome it, I know the fear is irrational, however I just can’t do it. The best I’ve been able to do  is reduce the strength of my reaction when I’m not taken by surprise. I was able to walk into the kitchen, but only long enough to put something in the refrigerator and rush back to the “safety” of the living room. Like I said, completely irrational. And now I’ve passed this fear on to K.

It wasn’t intentional, or even necessarily preventable since I have very little control over my reaction. But knowing that didn’t make me feel less guilty when she came running into the living room crying and shaking with fear. A fear that I planted in her head. I’m pretty good at letting go of guilt but my kids can certainly bring that emotion to the forefront faster than anything or anyone else. All parents hate the idea that our kids will suffer but it’s compounded infinitely when we know we are responsible for that suffering.

But, even in parenting, I still believe that guilt is a wasted emotion, perhaps ESPECIALLY in parenting. Guilt only serves to keeps us locked in the past and, worse yet, it keeps the focus on ourselves instead of helping our kids. I can’t go back and be a better parent in the past, I can’t jump ahead and see what the consequences of the mistakes I’m inevitably making right now will have. All I can do is, right here and now, parent the child in front of me with the best information available to me.

So, I tried my best to both console her and convince her that she doesn’t have to take on my phobia; maybe it’s not so ingrained in her that she can’t overcome it. Or maybe it’s too late.  Either way I’m choosing to focus on how to help her NOW instead of on my past mistakes. And trying to accept that just because I’m not a perfect mother doesn’t mean I’m not a good mother.

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