Apologize to Yourself in Advance

Several weeks ago I saw a meme on Facebook that said this:

Because I'm thoughtful, I immediately texted the image to my oldest daughter, a high school freshman, and wrote, "It's okay. Dad and I still love you." She clearly appreciated the assurance.

But how true is this? Parents are perpetually breaking in new realms of parenting with their first kid. You don't want to be too permissive, and you don't want to be too firm. You want to keep them safe, but you also want them to gain independence and learn responsibility. You have no precedent for how to navigate the waters because you've never done it before. And the waters themselves? They're not crystal clear beaches. They're murky. You can't see the bottom, and you don't quite know what you're stepping on. It's all a bit unnerving.

The other night when our youngest left the room, my husband looked at me and joked, "Do you ever think that she's our best shot of getting it right?" I kind of laughed-snorted (a charming tendency) because, YES, I'm banking on this. Our third child better benefit from the mistakes we've made with the first two.

My office mate, a man who has no kids, recently said, "I don't know how you parents do it. I think you must have to get in the habit of apologizing to yourself in advance. You're not always going to get it right, but you sure are trying your best."

His words encouraged me. It's smart to give ourselves permission to not always parent perfectly, which is impossible anyway, and to trust that we'll grow as our kids grow.

Sure, our kids might turn out a little weird, like that first pancake. That's okay. Weird pancakes still taste good.

We're all trying our best.

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