My mother has always used the analogy, that parenting is like painting a portrait.
Every conversation, mistake, teachable moment, experience and circle-back conversation is like a brush stroke slowly and gradually building the foundation of your child and shaping who they will become. It takes focus, repetition, patience and humility. The process of creating a finished portrait takes time…lots and lots of time. With multiple painters however, the finished product can come together much faster.
In my pre-pandemic life, the village of painters that surrounded and supported my children was robust. Teachers, Grandparents, friends, neighbors, Aunts/Uncles and Aunties/Unkies (what we call family friends) all contributed a stroke here and a stroke there, gradually helping to shape my children. They were voices that gave the same message as mine, but with different roles, different words and different tones.
Now—my village of painters is still here of course, but with the state of the world, they are…distant.
There are no more person-to-person hang outs, playdates and dinners with my boys, telling them jokes, giving them ideas and helping them solve problems.
Conversations are still had of course, but you lose a little something through Zoom.
You can still hear the words.
You can still see the smiles.
But you lose a lot not being able to give someone a hug or a hand-shake or a high five.
In this quarantine-life, with my village not as accessible, I find myself getting frustrated more easily, having a shorter fuse and making more mistakes with my boys than my pre-pandemic parent-self. It’s not pretty. They look at me like I am a little nuts…and I feel awful afterwards.
Our level of stress and strain makes sense, however.
As parents, we’re overly tired and juggling too much.
We are parenting our children 24/7 with very little downtime.
Parents have to be everything right now.
We are the school.
We are the friends.
We are the parents.
We are trying to work to maintain financial stability.
Never in human history have we asked parents to take on all of these pieces simultaneously.
But, I want to lighten your load: it’s ok to make mistakes with our kids because there are no perfect parents. And the good news is, we can circle back to fix it, reconnect and problem solve.
Think of it as modeling how to make, recover and move on from mistakes.
After the strong emotions have passed, we scoop them up.
Plop them on our laps (if they are plop-able) and talk about the problem:
- What happened?
- Why were you so upset?
- What did you figure out?
- What can I do to make you feel better? (Forgiveness)
- And MOST importantly: What’s the plan for next time?
Because, we are always making plans for next time.
And even next time, things will be better but not perfect.
So, we make another plan.
And another plan.
The nice thing about making mistakes when you’re painting a portrait is that you can always take a step back and let the paint dry. Then try again—maybe this time with a different color, or a different brush, but you slowly begin to blend the old and the new.
Raising kids is the same, I think.
We make a mistake and we take a step back…let the emotions settle. And then we try again. Another approach, another plan and in the end we have helped grow new skill (for them and us).
By the end of this crazy journey through parenting…you have created a masterpiece.
Although I am so tired I can hardly see straight, I am going to choose to see this time in quarantine as a blessing. I have copious amounts of time with these little people that are changing before my very eyes. Time to make mistakes, yes, and also the time to circle-back to fix them.
With the school year almost over, our loads (and theirs) will be lightened substantially and we can start focusing on putting a plan in place for summer. The good news is, we’ve done summer planning/scheduling before. It’s familiar and we have some skill and experience with managing that timeframe.
We got this.
Take care of yourselves, my friends.
We look forward to seeing you soon at the office as Austin opens up gradually and safely, but in the meantime, we can schedule FaceTime/Zoom appointments as needed.
Please let us know if we can support you in any way and remember to Keep Calm, and Parent On!