I remember reading a magazine shortly after my first child was born. The article was about taking care of yourself after having a baby. It suggested that you might want to relax some of your cooking and housekeeping standards so you don't wear yourself out. "Use frozen vegetables instead of having to chop up fresh ones and go an extra day between vacuuming."
You know those moments when you aren't sure whether to laugh or cry? The only vegetables in the house were frozen and we didn't even own a vacuum cleaner at the time. (Don't worry, we got one shortly.)
This kind of advice may be helpful to someone out there, but it wasn't very helpful to me. I lived in a whole different world than the author of that article.
This blog is about how I survive in a house full of crazy, forgive myself when I mess up and appreciate the compulsively responsible, quirky individualist, generous, compassionate, creative, desperate to do good-ness of my amazing kids.
First lesson: Let your children see you change.
When I was a young single adult I met a woman named Suzy. She had had a rough life from her youngest childhood through her early adulthood. She experienced abuse which led her to marry an abusive man, and participate in a host of self-defeating behaviors. Eventually she realized that this was not the life she wanted for herself or her children and she began to make changes. She made peace with God, got the help she needed and started a new life. However, her children still felt the consequences of her earlier decisions. She wondered how she could ever be a decent role model for her daughters. After all, they knew all about the poor choices she had made. At this point she was given a brilliant piece of advice that she later shared with me.
It is important for your children to see you change. Your example of courage and faith that led you to leave the miserable life you were living will be a beacon to them throughout their lives. They will learn that no matter how many mistakes they make, they can change, they can be right with God, themselves, and the people they love. They know they can, because they saw you do it.
This was mind blowing to me. I've been preaching it ever since.
I love the AdoptUSKids campaign slogan:
You don't have to be perfect to be a perfect parent.
So say "I'm sorry." Admit your mistakes and talk about how you plan to improve. Let them see what courage, humility and change look like. That is a powerful example.