There is no such thing as a perfect person. Imperfection is the gift of being human. The only perfect thing in the world may be snowflakes. They're exquisite, unique and perfectly shaped. Perfection melts quickly.
How quickly we forget what it means to be human. How quickly we forget the mistakes we have made - those seemingly life-altering, wish-I-wouldn't-have-done-that, can-I-do-it-over-again kind of mistakes. Those humiliating, life-shattering mistakes. Big and small mistakes -the hallmark of being human.
In the news, there have been visible examples of parents making mistakes. There was the father who allegedly left his child in the parking garage for three hours while he tended to business, forgetting to take her to day care. There was, too, the young mother who gave birth to her child and allegedly left him for dead in a toilet.
Before passing judgment, we should remember: There is no such thing as a perfect parent.
For many parents, what starts out as a joyful and deeply rewarding experience becomes increasingly more challenging. Mistakes will happen, They can easily become life-and-death mistakes that affect the future of the planet, no matter insignificant they may appear at first. What a responsibility to carry.
My parents made mistakes. I am a parent and have made mistakes. Some of my mistakes I can laugh at, others I use as an opportunity to beat myself up with one hand as I use the other to ward off the verbal strikes of others.
I know that my parents are good people who love me and want the very best in life for me. They have always tried their very best to love and care for me. It took all that they had to keep up with the daily pressures of life with their constant exhaustion, isolation and confusion. Add to this the overwhelming responsibility of sheltering me from the oppressive impact of society and the challenge of just finding the time and energy to pay attention to me. What little was left at the end of the day was stored to fuel the next day's parenting. How many of us were really prepared for parenting?
Parents have always done the best they could.
Parenting is done largely without preparation. There are limited resources to call upon when the work becomes overwhelming. When I make mistakes, I feel as if I have personally failed. The guilt prevents me from seeing my successes and enjoying my child completely .
As parents we often lack information about the needs of young children. Who else works 24 hours a day, often alone, unsupported and under criticism from others?
Exhaustion prevents parents from making clear and fresh decisions, relating well to others and resting completely. That's why my parents always looked so tired.
Ever hear of parental oppression? It is one of those secrets that we don't talk about.
Too often we lose track of the fact that improving the lives of children could also mean improving the lives of parents. We no longer have to settle to just get things right for our children. The fact is, we won't be able to get things right for our children until things are also right for us as parents..
I think back to the mistakes made by the forgetful father and the confused young woman and I hear the comments of others.
"How stupid can that person be?"
" I would have never done that."
"He's a bad person to have done that."
"She'd better be punished so that she doesn't do that again."
I have found myself thinking those things too. Blame, anger and disappointment fills the air.
Then I hear the sound of glass breaking as the stone tears through the walls of my house.
Our ability to move children's lives forward is linked with making sure that all parents have steady access to support. Yes, sometimes mistakes are large and hurtful and we must take responsibility for the impact of our behavior on others. Yet it is never helpful to point fingers and accuse in a self-righteous manner.
Mistakes are an opportunity to move us forward as a society. Our children's lives are enhanced to the extent that society makes sure that parents are valued, cherished and honored.
These are the gifts for imperfect parents.