• Dr. Matt Zakreski

Imperfect parenting is good parenting

Updated: Jun 28

This is parenting.

My kids were A LOT yesterday.

Objectively, it makes sense. It was a holiday. Our schedules are off due to recovering from covid. They're excited to see the Easter Bunny and disappointed that we couldn't see family. But still...

I was up at 630am with two kids who needed breakfast and to change clothes, but wanted to watch TV before we did any of that. So we watched TV first.

They asked me to make a special breakfast of pancakes, but then the kids did not eat the pancakes "because we don't have the good syrup.". It is unclear what "the good syrup" is.

I announced that the Easter Bunny had left us a note with some games and treats to get through until Easter baskets arrived in the afternoon. The kids were so excited for the game! The game lasted three minutes.

We tried going outside. After twenty minutes of prep (bathrooms, socks, shoes, coats, etc) we walked a grand total of three houses away from our house. Then the screaming started.

I tried a few different lunches, but then they ate something.

Nap time went ok... For the one of them that naps. For the other one, it was twenty minutes before she was right back downstairs looking to be entertained.

We distracted the kids while I hid eggs in the front yard. They were so excited to find them!! And they were so darn cute, working together and taking turns and cheering each other on. I felt so good.

Easter baskets were a hit. Until it was revealed that I had forgotten to hardboil the eggs. So we couldn't paint them today. Lots of tears and screaming. I'm frustrated with myself for forgetting and their reaction. I'm only human, right?

Dinner happens. One kid eats, one kid refuses. Lots of negotiating occurs. More screaming. I lose my temper and shout. I apologize. More negotiating. Then suddenly dinner is eaten and dessert is served and everyone is smiling.

Then bath time. More negotiating, lots of stalling. Lots of answering questions and and getting "one more thing" from downstairs. I'm so tired and burned out and feeling disrespected and underappreciated.

Then my daughter, fresh from the tub, looks me in the eyes and says, "daddy, will you braid my hair?"

And I melt.

I always do.

So I braided her hair. And she cuddled up into me and I took several deep breaths. I knew she had done the best she could today... And I knew that she knew that I had done my best, as well.

Was I a perfect parent yesterday? Of course not. I am increasingly sure that the perfect parent doesn't exist, especially not in these times (and on dysregulating holidays).

Was I the parent I wanted to be yesterday? That's complicated. I did some really good stuff yesterday. I also got frustrated and yelled and negotiated and took things personally. All the stuff that you're not supposed to do.

But here's the thing. I'm a damn good parent. I love my kids and my kids love me. I'm not perfect but that's good because I don't have to be. I simply try to do better when I can, and forgive myself when I fall short. Which is a lot. I don't always succeed at this lovely goal, mind you, but I try.

At the end of the day, regardless of how it went (and how you felt about it), if your kiddo can crawl into your lap and ask for a snuggle, or a story, or a book, or their hair braided, then it's going to be ok.

Because you're there with them. And, at the end of the day, that is what really matters.

#drmatt #parenting #neurodiversity

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