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Can I Ever Achieve A Mastery of Parenting?

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I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve told my children to close the back door when they go in or out, flush the toilet when they are done, close their mouth when they chew, I love you.

I guess you could say that a successful person may never see themselves as a master of their specialty. It’s the journey that’s most important.

The most successful people in the world are those who have found their passion. Then they practice it. And then they practice some more. And they keep practicing. Even if they have done the thing for 50 years, they still practice. Every time they practice they learn something new even if they are doing to same thing 20,000 times.

My husband and I took a class several years ago to help us be better parents. It was a marvelous experience. We were surrounded by parents who were in the same boat, struggling to their best and wondering if they were doing anything right. The adults would commiserate about our parenting ineptness or outright failures and the children would play in the basement.

The tools we learned both from the class and from talking with our fellow parents-in-distress worked for a time and then they didn’t. What happened? We forgot to practice.

We expected that our children would eventually understand our expectations, our wants and fulfill them with little to no guidance. Meaning, we expected the kids to do everything we said the first, or perhaps second time, and make our lives easier. Um, well, not so much.

I even found myself saying, “I’ve tried it this way for how many months now here I am saying it again” and then I was yelling, and then kids were unhappy and it was a spiral right back down to where we were before.

So what now? Practice. Will I ever be a master parent? The idea is laughable, hysterical, a satirical gold-mine. No, I’ll never be a master parent. I will always be practicing. I will focus on the journey and keep the final goal in mind.

My children have already moved from babes-in-arms dependent on me for their every need – awake or asleep. After trying and trying and then trying again, they have learned crawl and then to walk with their arms raised in victory.

After weeks of practice, they have learned to tie their shoes. Lots of instruction and guidance has led them to be able to brush their teeth. Over the years, they have learned to read board books then moved onto chapter books and easing into information books (non-fiction books about space and sharks and puppies) and now after all those hours and going from holding his finger to lead his eyes and needing help deciphering the big words my oldest can read young adult and adult level novels.

Both my children have learned to write. My son is now in 7th grade and I can confidently say that his handwriting is not only legible it is also pleasant to read. That only took about 8 years.

They can make their bed and even make scrambled eggs. And they can tuck me into bed on the rare occasion I turn in before they do.

I will always be practicing to be a better parent just like my kids will be practicing to be better kids and to be better readers, writers, soccer players, and swimmers.

When I make a mistake or even outright fail, I will try and then I will try again. Why? Because that’s what I want my children to do.

A few months of practice? That’s a drop in the bucket. I certainly couldn’t “master” the piano in a few months and I’m certainly not going to master parenting in a few months. I’m going on 12 years of this and I still am unsure of how I’m going to handle what comes my way.

I do know that I can learn to live with my children, learn to love them more each day, and I can learn to communicate with them, I can learn to listen to them. Every day. And with my eyes and my ears and my mind open, I may encounter some pretty marvelous things along this journey of parenting that I will never master.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit. ~ Aristotle

Photo credit:

Heather Ruch
Author: Heather Ruch

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  • comment avatar Amber Johnson December 13, 2012

    Here’s the funny thing about parenting. The moment you feel like you’re getting a Mastery of Parenting in one area, you get knocked down and humbled in another. If I had only my son (who is an easy kid), I would think I was the best mom ever. However, I have my adorable, strong-willed daughter who reminds me every day I still have a lot of work to do.

  • comment avatar Michelle December 13, 2012

    Mastered is a strong word. Some things I do better than others but I’m still a work in progress even after 12.5 years.

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