I’d like to introduce my next contributor by telling a story about purpose, but more importantly, about action. Sara Beth Roberts and I met for coffee to discuss some business about our neighborhood swim team which she headed up. Our conversation quickly moved away from sponsorships to purpose, and now that our children were in school, what is ours? I told her I thought she should write and she looked at me with total surprise–like I suddenly had three heads. For me, this was a no-brainer as she would share other people’s blogs on her Facebook page, and her commentary on their work was a hundred times better than the author’s blog. I had no idea that writing was her passion and something she had studied to do, but got put on a shelf as many things do when our children are young. I told her she needed to quit hiding under other blogger’s skirts and write her own because she had profound insights on parenting that needed to be shared. What I love about this story is that she did just that-she took action. She started Mama Up to rave reviews, and soon after, was offered a job as an editor at Salem Media Group. She didn’t just think about doing something–she took action and taking that risk has lead her to her purpose of not only being a loving wife, incredible mother of four, author, editor, and now helper of others as they fulfill their dreams of becoming published authors. I am proud to present her advice here and for more of her insights on parenting, be sure to follow her blog mamaupva.
The longer I parent the more I realize that I really have nothing to say—I have no advice to give. When I started this journey with my first son, I read a lot of books full of ideas about how to be the perfect parent and raise the perfect children in the perfect community. As my experience grew along with my number of children, I decided that parenting is a whole lot less about being perfect and a whole lot more about being present. I decided that instead of holding truths with clenched fists, I would accept ideas with open palms. I decided that I didn’t want to be at the top, on some fancy pedestal, and I didn’t want my kids there either—not only is it lonely at the top, it’s a long way to fall when you finally do.
I decided that life is not a race with a prize at the end. Actually maybe it is, but I’m bowing out and so are my kids. I will not judge my effectiveness as a parent by how my children compare to others.
I am a firm believer that there are not 5 step to raising happy kids, but if I had 5 things to tell you, for you to hold loosely too, it would be:
- Your parenting will look different and that’s okay because your kids are different than other people’s kids. People are not watching you—they are too busy. If they are, they need to get back in their own lane. Parenting is not a competition—there is success for everyone.
- Avoid feeling the need to reach some sort of imaginary bar. It was not set by your children, it was not set by your neighbor–it was set by you. We are all good at different things. I am awful at remembering to practice times tables and sight words, but I am awesome at dancing in the kitchen. My kids are average at multiplication, but they know how to bust a move to Michael Jackson and Luke Bryan.
- Don’t ever say you won’t, because you will.
- Don’t judge another parent’s decisions because you don’t walk in their shoes (but you may have to one day.)
- Don’t judge your own parenting by your child’s success and failures. Hold loosely to both. The same hand that pats your own back when they make straight A’s, is the same hand that has to dry their tears (and yours too) when they make a really dumb choice. It’s a lot easier when you haven’t given some false illusion of perfectionism.
I know I said 5, but I can’t be trusted when words are involved, so here are a few more: Don’t expect your kids to make mature, adult decisions because they’re just kids. Practice what you preach. Say you’re sorry (a million times a day.) Show kindness to others. Live for more than yourself. Say yes as often as you can, but say no too.
At the end of the day, I want my children to love others more than themselves—that’s all. I know they will mess it up a thousand times, just like I do, but if they can keep coming back to it, if they keep working at it, I know they will find great success.