Being a parent is hard work. Being a parent that practices what one preaches is even harder. It is so easy to give advice. It is so easy to be the “go to” person when friends or acquaintances are struggling. However; when it comes to following that advice how successful are you?
I have recently been pondering this idea. This thought. The illusion that many may or may not have about me. Do I practice what I preach? Do most parents really follow the directions they give others? Do most parents actually follow the rules they have set for their children? The internet is full of blogs on “How to Parent”. It’s so easy to coach from afar.
Advice is so easy to give. All special needs parents know that. In fact, all parents know that. How many times have you freely given advice? You knew you had the experienced, you knew your idea was the best way. However? On the other hand, how many times have you been in a situation when you were on the receiving end of advice you did not want nor elicit? When someone freely passed on wisdom and you really, really did not want to hear it. We teach our kids life lessons but do we lead by example? What is the old saying – “Actions speak louder than words”
Action…. I pack fruit every day for my kid’s school lunches. I even make comments like, “Did you get a vegetable today?” Yes, I have probably blogged or will blog on the benefits of making your own lunch. But truly, I have to manage time. Honestly, making the lunch is a way I’m needed. Makes me feel good about “my mom roll”. Ok, Back to the fruit. I am not a big fan of fruits and do not eat fruit every day. I also have to make a conscious effort to order greens. You know beans, salad and such. Sometime, Sometimes, when it’s just me for lunch I order a #34 at my favorite burger joint. #34 is a burger with bacon, cheese and an egg on it. It’s large. N0! It’s huge and the sauces drip down my arm as I eat it. I usually order it with fries and a drink because I can.
Phones and the table. I absolute hate it when the kids text at the table, when the phone rings and someone jumps for the table to answer, or when the phone interrupts my eating. Really, can not todays society wait. Well…. Recently, I caught myself sneaking peeks at my phone under the table. And I have also excused my self from a table to check my phone in the restroom. My actions need tweaking or my verbiage does. Leading by example is hard, exhausting.
I think this whole idea of practicing what you preach came to a head last week. Mel is always ready to leave for school five min after I have told her we need to leave. I have tried so many things to get her to be ready on time. My latest strategy was to tell he we need to leave at say 8AM, when in fact we need to leave at 8:15AM. That only seemed to me like reinforcing the issue. Well last week, I left at 7:30 like I told her I was going to the night before. She was running late again. She was not ready. I left her alone in the house, not ready.
Sister needed to be at tennis at 7:45 and tennis is all the way across town. Mel needed to be at school at 8:15 at the latest. I knew I could get to tennis and back and get Mel to school by 8:20 probably. So I left with a knot in my stomach. I hated it. I was thinking; Is this the right things? What will I find when I arrive back home? Would I have done this if she was not in a wheelchair.? And the big ones, am I being fair? Am I doing the right thing.? Well in a nut shell, I found Mel about a block from the house, totally upset. She had decided to push herself to school. It’s at least 2 miles but could be done. I picked her up at the curb and got her to school by 8:15. She did not say a word. I did not say a word. I struggled with the scenario for the entire day. Hy head hurt, my stomach never settled. Did I do the right thing? In looking back, I think so. Would I do it again? Maybe. But it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. She was so sad, it broke my heart. I will never, ever forget the look on her face as I round the corner.
So yes, parenting is hard but practicing what you preach is really, really hard. It is so easy to recommend, to instruct. But when push comes to shove, when you are alone, when no one is watching.. Do you follow your own advice? And then again, you may, but each and every child is so different. Each life is unique, every living moment differs by so many variables.
I will continue to ponder. I will continue to strive to move forward. To understand this role called parenting.
The mysteries, the unknown, the constant self questioning.
The fear of not being,
Not being the parent when a parent is needed.
Of not holding when a body needs held.
Of not listening when all that’s needed is an ear
Preaching when practice is more important
Researching when spontaneous would do
And mostly, not gently guiding when a child’s is just lost