The moment I realized I failed at parenting


My daughter will tell you I’m crazy.

She doesn’t understand at all.

Somewhere between two days before Christmas and New Year’s Eve, I simply had a revelation.

I messed up.

It wasn’t my mother-in-law’s chocolate pie. It wasn’t my first novel. Although, I certainly did a fine job of making a disaster of both of those.

I’m talking big, as in parenthood.

Yeah, I messed up parenthood.

The awareness has been creeping in our home with each arriving college acceptance letter.

The sixth showed up just days before Santa.

I finally got it. Daughter is leaving. She’s as good as gone.

She’s already designing her dream dorm room at the college she has yet to select.

Which means that time is up and my turn is over and I blew it.

I suddenly realized all the things I haven’t done for her or with her.

I never made a single scrapbook.

There were no ornaments on our Christmas tree.

We don’t spend every Friday night uproariously laughing around board games.

I could go on and on.

Perhaps, you can relate, Dear Reader?

It’s not just about parenting.

It’s about anything you only get one pass at.

Your wedding. Seeing Paris for the first time. Throwing a surprise party. Tie dying a white T-shirt.

There are no go-backs.

I don’t come by this “I Want Another Turn” pity party genetically.

My own mother was the least sentimental of parents.

“You got what you got. Now go do your best,” I could hear her saying, keeping her promise of not totally leaving when she passed last August.

“I will haunt you the rest of your life,” she said as part of her final words.

Tender, no.

Truthful, yes.

And actually helpful.

Her words made me realize I didn’t lose my mind. I simply overdosed on social media. On Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, we all watch holidays, families, trips, parties, lives and puppies unfold to complete perfection.

How easy it is to lump the entire internet into one person and compare ourselves to Imaginary Perfect Mom.

I’m realizing this is actually my biggest failure.

The mom creating the perfect scrapbook isn’t the CEO introducing her kid to celebrities. And she’s not the one tucking her kid in each night or putting a home-cooked meal on the table and tucking her kid in each night with customized storybook time.

We all get a little bit right and plenty wrong, and somehow never get around to the rest.

This thought made me feel better, well a little bit.

So did going to a movie with my daughter.

“That was fun to do together,” I offered.

“Sure, yeah,” she tepidly agreed as she shut her door. “I’m going to go look at dorm room ideas.”

“Maybe we could look at designs together?” I suggested.

“Are you crazy?” she replied.

“Yeah, as a matter of fact I am.”

Here’s to crazy.

Here’s to imperfect.

Here’s incomplete, even.

Here’s to no do-overs and simply accepting you’re done.

And you’ve done your crazy best.



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