What IS a “good” parent?

Matt White

I read a shared article from the Huffinggton Post recently that made me reflect a bit on the organized madness that has become my life with children.
The gist of the piece touched on that fact that most parents, like myself often feel unworthy of “great parenting” status and oftentimes – through the false guidance of other “perfect” parents – battle the self-criticizing war on being a well balanced parent; with hopes of raising a well balanced child(ren).
The writer, Steve Wiens, explains his biggest pet peeves in simplest form, which I can appreciate: The “Perfects” will say things like “You should enjoy every moment now! They grow up so fast!” False. Sometimes, that just isn’t the case.
What exactly would be the point of “savoring the moment” your prepubescent daughter immobilizes herself in a tantrum because she dislikes the flavor of her toothpaste, all of which you know is just a ploy to extend the pre-bedtime routine? I dare you to explain to me how this moment will be worth thinking back on and reminiscing over in twenty years. Not every single moment of our child’s life was meant to be relished in the first place. Just trust me.
Now, I’m sure many of you will conclude that I am some sort of horrid excuse of a guardian based on that though, and many more will claim to romanticize every waking nanosecond you child spends breathing; but let’s be realistic. You’re not fooling anyone.
Much like Weins, I’d like to take these folks (The “Perfects”, NOT the children) and hold them under water… just for a minute; just until they start to panic a little bit. Maybe then the “Perfects”will understand the gravity of having 7 arguing children under one roof at once. Maybe then they’ll understand why the first 3 minutes of dinner – when they’re all stuffing their little faces – is my favorite part of the day; maybe then, they’ll know or remember what it feels like to not be able to “take it anymore.”
Don’t get me wrong. I am not complaining, friends. It’s a very rare occasion when we’re all actually at the table at once. The majority of the time the size of the table seems exaggerated. I have two ex-spouses and we share our children, which is still a relatively new concept for me. Usually about five minutes after my children return to the care of their mother; the silence sets in and I can tell you with all certainty that I’d rather have them there arguing with me about how much they “don’t like corn” or talking back like a Disney diva than not at all.
Everyone’s heard the adage “with age comes wisdom,” or the like. I am slowly learning how to let things that I used to be so adamant about slide for the sake of my children’s autonomy, and for the sake of peace. I’ve come to understand that each of them need to be dealt individually and not as an army brigade. The dialogue in our house is ever changing and I swear I’m doing my best. I DO cherish most of the precious little time I spend with my kids out of default, so please don’t try and drive the point home by cramming it down my throat. Not every second of parenthood was meant to be framed on a wall.