In a heart-wrenching article, “Parenting a constant fight to be the best amid failure,” a mother feels like a failure because she’s less than perfect. The author Ashley Abramson also reflects about her own opioid-addict mother. She loved her mom in spite of her suffering and problems. I can relate to this because I grew up in a household with its own issues—parents who fought, addiction and bipolar disorder. I’m also a less than perfect mother and wish I could have done more or been a better person. This is an emotional story and one I hope you take the time to read. Here are a few excerpts:
“Nothing renders me as helpless as my 3-year-old son’s night terrors. If I make it in time, my touch is enough to absorb his fear. But if I arrive a second too late, I find him terrified by something he can’t name and may forget by morning.
“I measure my success as a parent by my two boys’ awareness of my love, and how safe they feel. So when I don’t get there in time, I feel like a failure.
“That’s because they only see what I do, not my intentions. They do not know what I want for them — what I am desperate to give — unless I actually come through. On the nights I don’t make it to their room in time, or on the days when I fail to be present, or worse, withdraw from them because of my fears, I am not enough. I’m sure my mother never intended to let me down. But she did, and that disappointment cast a shadow on my childhood.
“We are all perfect parents before we have children. Armed with the ideals we have collected since childhood, but none of the experience we need to know what we are up against, we will our children’s lives to be at best idyllic and at worst stable — and in my case, anxiety-free. But when our children come, they shine a spotlight on our weaknesses. And not only do they see us for what we are, but we do, too — perhaps for the first time. Only now can I see that for the gift it is. Because in the heat and pressure of stewarding another life, we become what we want so desperately to be. Only when we are face to face with our brokenness do we ever have a shot at wholeness.”
This article hit me hard, from the author’s memories of her mother to the night terrors that my son experienced, also. I felt so helpless and scared with him screaming and thrashing about–I was unable to comfort him. I also agree with the author that parenting gives us the opportunity to be better people.
We want our kids to be surrounded and protected by our love. We want them to grow into loving and kind adults. We need to be examples to them of how to behave, give and receive love. Because we are human beings, we are less than perfect. Our kids may be frustrated with us, but they–and we–can accept our less than perfect parents and still love them.
How has becoming a parent made you a better person?