(Im)Perfect Parenting

I have a disease.

It’s called perfectionism.

My fellow first-borns will understand what I mean by this, the rest of you will just have to take my word for it. Perfectionism is this unexplainable, illogical need to achieve “perfection”. Of course, we realize that perfection is unattainable but we will still work ourselves to death chasing this illusion.

Never satisfied. Never content. Always telling yourself, “you could’ve done better”.

In the last three years I have found an anecdote. I wouldn’t call it a “cure” since those perfectionistic urges are still present somewhere in my mind, but this anecdote has definitely taught me that I’m far from perfect. I can’t keep a spotless house. I can’t follow my schedule every day. It’s ok to fix chicken nuggets or pizza for lunch. And, the world will not end.

The name of this miraculous drug…Mikayla.

Maybe all children offer this anecdote. Maybe its just my precious angel. (If you struggle with perfectionism, I’ll gladly loan her to you for a week or so.) Either way, I have had to really let go of some of my idealistic tendencies in order to maintain my sanity.

A few days ago she reminded me once again, ever so subtly, that I am an imperfect parent. While peacefully browsing the isles at Target my lovely child pitched a fit over a toy. She screamed. She slapped me. She threw her shoes. She screamed some more. Other shoppers wished I would just leave…they didn’t say it…they didn’t have to. I’m sure they all thought I’ve never said no to my child a day in her life and that my cute, curly-haired princess is a spoiled brat. They didn’t say that either…their judgmental looks said enough.

What did I do? Well, after (calmly) sitting her back down and picking up her shoes, I continued my shopping. I said (in a surprisingly calm tone), “I’m so sorry. We don’t get what we want when we scream like this.” I ignored her and smiled at the on-lookers with their “what kind of mother are you” glances. And, I repented for all those times I had been a judgmental on-looker while someone else’s kid screamed their head off in public.

Was that the right way to handle the situation? Should I have just left? Should I have offered punishment in some form? I don’t have a flippin’ clue.

But, this isn’t the first time I’ve felt imperfect as a parent. And it won’t be the last. Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Maybe God gives us these frustrating little bundles of energy called children knowing that they will teach us as much as we will teach them. Maybe we as grown ups think we have life figured out and our children are God’s way of reminding us that we in fact have nothing figured out. Maybe this was just another lesson in “Chrystal isn’t perfect.” I need reminders every once in a while.

By the time we left the store, she had calmed down but was still fake-whining for the toy. I continued ignoring her and by the time we got home she had forgotten all about it. She was her usual easy-going, happy self. We watched the Lion King…seven times.

What was the toy? I took this picture before the melt-down began. You might be thinking, “why’d you let her play with it in the first place?” But if you’ve ever seen my child with Elmo then you know it wouldn’t have mattered. The moment she saw him from 20 feet away it was already too late. My hope was that if she touched it for a few minutes she’d be ok to move on…uh, nope! There’s a good chance we’ll be avoiding the toy section like we avoid the swine flu until Christmas is over and all the giant displays are removed. That or you’ll know it’s us if you hear a screaming kid in Target.

Please tell me I’m not the only one learning this lesson. What’s something your child has done to remind you of your imperfections?

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4 responses to “(Im)Perfect Parenting

  1. Sharon Liendecker October 10, 2011 at 3:55 PM

    Crystal…you have such an amazing talent for writing. I enjoyed reading your stories. You have a precious daughter and she’s blessed with wonderful parents.

  2. Sharon Liendecker October 10, 2011 at 3:57 PM

    Crystal…you have such an amazing talent for writing. I enjoyed reading your stories. You have a precious daughter and she’s blessed with wonderful parents

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