Since having children, I’ve started living my life in unexpected ways. I’ve changed my attitude and daily life in ways I never imagined I would or could. I’ve done these things to be the example I want to be for my children. I’ve dug into my inner confidence and shown them that I am confident in who I am, I am confident in the body I was given and take care of it, and I am confident in what I do. I’ve tried to show them I will put forth my strongest, best efforts, and that I will never shy away from responsibility. I try to show them I am passionate about what I do. I try to show them the importance of a work ethic. I try to show them the importance of resiliency. I try to show them that nothing matters more than love and your family.
Today, I realized that in all my efforts, what I’ve failed to show them is that imperfection is part of who we are and that it is OK. Please don’t get me wrong. I am far from perfect, and I am the first to acknowledge that. I have insecurities. I am more likely to win the “Most Improved” award on any given day than “Most Likely to Succeed,” and there are a million things I wish I could learn to do. But in the eyes of my 5-year-olds and 1 ½-year-old, their mommy can do anything. They know that there are some things that mommy is better at and that daddy is better at, but they truly believe we can do anything. And what I came to think about today is perhaps I am doing them a disservice by nurturing this impression.
This past week, our nanny who had been with us for four years before she moved came to visit for a week. Today, she left to go home. Minutes after she left, we were driving away in the van. I looked back at my 5-year-old son, and saw him biting his lip, blinking his eyelids rapidly, red circles forming around his eyes. My sweet, sensitive boy was sad and missing our nanny. When the van stopped, I crawled into the backseat and wrapped my arms around my sweet boy. His tears brought tears to my eyes. I was just as sad as he was that our nanny had left. “I know, buddy. We all miss her right now. Look what you’ve done. You’ve made Mommy cry.” I chuckled lightly.
I saw my son look at me, wide-eyed, startled at what was happening. I realized then that my son had never seen me cry. Me, the sap who cries at every Extreme Makeover: Home Edition episode. Me, the sap who cries at every Ellen DeGeneres give-away clip. My son searched my teary eyes in panic to make sure that everything was still right, that I was still me, and that this was going to be OK. I smiled at him, “You know, buddy. It’s OK to cry. Mom cries too.” He looked at me unsure, and continued to stare, slightly bewildered, but slowly became reassured as I smiled through my tears and joked with him.
I realize that in trying to be an example to my kids, I have ignored a huge part of life and living and success: failure and imperfection.
And so I’ve made a new parenting resolution: to show my kids real life. I will show them the bad with the good — the challenges I face, the failures I confront on a daily basis whether they are big or small, that tears happen, that disappointment is part of life.
Without showing them I’m not always the best, I can’t show them how I regain my confidence. Without showing them my mistakes, I can’t truly show them strength. Without showing them my imperfections, I can’t show them how I try my best.
Without admitting that I have to do things I don’t like to do, I can’t show them how I own my responsibilities and pursue my passions. Without telling them about the challenges I face, I can’t show them the importance of a work ethic.
Without telling them about my failures, I can’t show them the importance of resiliency.
Without all these things, I can’t show them that no matter what, there is still love and there is still our family.
I guess what I want to say to my kids is that I’m sorry. My bad. Let’s try this again tomorrow. And that’s OK.