At my church, whenever we have a baby or child dedication ceremony, we have made it our practice to say to the parents, as a congregation, "We promise to withhold any and all judgment of this child and his parents while he is being raised." That part always puts a little lump in my throat, to be honest.
As a single parent, I tend to be a little hard on myself, a little overly self-criticial of my mommy skills (and general competency). As a mom, I'm so far from perfect that I often feel guilty even wearing the title of 'mother.' My kid, likewise, is not a perfect kid. Fortunately, though, I've yet to meet a perfect child, and this brings me a little comfort.
He's a good kid -- mostly kind, definitely tender-hearted, smart and quick and precocious and funny as all get-out. He can also be mouthy, selfish, bullheaded, stubborn and strong-willed. (I know those last three basically mean the same thing, but if you'd ever met Jaden, you would know that he deserves all three adjectives). It seems the proverbial apple indeed does not fall far from the tree.
There is no one on this earth I love more than my child. There is also no one on this earth who so regularly and effectively threatens to compromise my sanity. And I don't always handle myself like an adult, quite frankly.
Last Friday, for example, is a day that will go down in history as one of my less-stellar mommy moments -- one of the rare occasions when my child screamed at me and I, the rational superior adult with the advantage of a more evolved and developed handle on impulse control, chose to just scream right back at him. It was not a moment I wanted any of you to know about, honestly.
And yet here I am writing about it. Why? Because I think we need to be real with one another about how hard this parenting gig really is. None of us have it all together. Not even those friends of mine whom I always tell myself are much better parents than I am.
Here's the cold, hard fact: kids are human beings. Kids have rules to follow (or, at least, they should; they need them, and secretly want them on some level). Kids can make choices. If we are doing our jobs as parents, the choices will have consequences, whether positive or negative, and we will let those consequences befall them. Kids have free will, from day one. And that means they will embarrass us at some point. And they will push our buttons. And they might even wear us down so far that we scream, even those of us who are self-declared "scream-free parents."
It hasn't happened to me often, but it has happened. And it might have even happened to you. And now that I've admitted it, you can, too. Even if only to yourself.
Look, parenting is hard. So let's choose to withhold judgment of one another and of one another's children. Let's do what we can to encourage one another and keep it real. We're all in this together.