Saturday, May 23, 2015

Naked Parenting

This is not a blog post about my daughter. This is not about her behavior, or her flaws, or her strengths. This is about me as a parent.
Parenting is hard. I’m at an especially challenging point right now, and it’s tempting to believe I’m alone. That I’m the only parent who worries that I’ve lost my authority. That I’m the only parent who worries that I have failed, already, in 4 short years, and I have ruined her future. Because I do worry that. I feel like, as a parent, I have already failed in two significant tasks, and I’m not going to say what they are because this is not about her.
I pray for myself and for my daughter. I read books. I discuss options and strategies with my husband. I ask for help. I’m seeing a family therapist. I follow the advice of her preschool teacher. I don’t spank. I don’t threaten. I don’t say no and then say yes. I am doing the best I can, and it doesn’t seem like enough.

Why? Because when I do let down my guard and talk with people, I see their eyes widen. I see their mouths open with unformed words, shocked at what I am saying. Are they faking it? Are they truly not facing the same challenges? Or are they simply shocked that I’m being so open and honest about it?

I’m a pretty open person. I’m not particularly interested in maintaining some picture perfect façade. I’ve been told most of my life that a façade is important. That by being open and refusing to wear masks, I’m hurting myself and my career. But I persist in my openness. Whenever I do put a mask on, it’s so painful that I can only maintain it for an hour or two before I collapse in tears.

So here I am, standing tall on my blog, admitting it all to the world. Because I KNOW I am not alone. There are other parents like me. Maybe one of you is reading this. Maybe you are nodding your head, because you understand. You know what it’s like to hear about how “this method” works for 99% of children and to conclude, sadly, that you are in the 1%. You know what it’s like to second guess your every choice. You know how isolating it feels when you are with other parents and their “challenges” sound like a walk in the park. You know what it feels like to gather up your courage and admit something and see judgment in the other parents’ eyes.

We are not alone. That is a lie, designed to mire us in depression and resignation. I’m here, telling you, you and I are in this together. Our hard work is paying off. Seeing a family therapist or getting other professional help doesn’t mean we are failures – it means we are successes. We refuse to let pride get in the way of creating the best world for us and our kids. Stay strong. Comment here if you want to share. If not, send me a DM on Twitter, @elainefbayless You can be naked with me. I won’t judge you.

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