Doing the best we can

Happy New Year, Minnesota parents!

Will 2017 be a no-yell year for you? Will this be the year you finally take care of your marriage/partner/self (and not just your kiddos)? 

Will this be the year you become perfect and balanced and start going to the gym three times a week again?

Of course it won’t. 

But as Amanda Bell — the #keepingitreal viral video queen and Detroit mom behind the recent Kohl’s Cash rant — says on her Facebook page (while lying in bed under the covers, getting ready to face the day): 

Life isn’t practice makes perfect. It’s practice makes progress.

We try to make progress — even if it’s one step forward, four steps back — as parents to these creatures who are so adorable and amazing, but also confusing and frustrating.

Day in, day out, we do the best we can.

Usually, it’s more than good enough. It just doesn’t feel very good at the time. 

We’re full of doubt, fear and exhaustion (anger, too?) amid unbearable levels of love and dizzying pockets of sublime joy (bliss even?).

With my son, I struggle — constantly wondering if I’m doing it right, if he’s OK. 

He’s 8½ and I feel like my time to “raise him right” is slipping away. 

How can I teach him to be safe (without scaring/scarring him), help him be kind (without preaching at him) and show him how to fend for himself (without burying him in chores and lectures about entitlement)?

The answer I’ve arrived at, I suppose, is to just love him, to be as present as possible with him — by minimizing distractions and my own inherent frustrations, to remember (again and again): I’m the adult and he’s the child. 

It seems like when I do that, all “the answers” — and those sudden bursts of “mother’s intuition” — come to me. (Yes, they’re rare and fleeting, but they do come.)

So, I guess I’m going to try to do more of that in 2017 (#adulting #lifegoals).

And I’m going to fall back on the advice of the book referenced on our Teens & Tweens page this month — How to Talk So Teens Will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk, as summarized by one reviewer: 

“Treat people with respect; don’t deny their emotions, state the facts (only) and shut up and listen.”

And, finally, there’s that other secret ingredient to parenting: A sense of humor. Sometimes I get so serious, I forget how inherently hilarious childhood really is!

Fortunately, our Toddler Time columnist reminded me this month.

Happy New Year!