Lately after I tuck my kids into bed at night I walk down the hall feeling like a complete parenting failure. It is a frustrating feeling, a feeling of helplessness mixed with incompetence, like I should be doing things so much better and yet I am not.
In my head a good parent has obedient kids who are polite, follow directions the first time and are incredibly respectful. In my head, good parents have control of their kids.
As my kids are getting older I am realizing that I really do not have control of my kids. I am a failure at controlling my kids.
My boys are loud. They are boisterous and fill a room completely when they enter it. People look at us in Target or smile on me with pity in the grocery store. Just today an older couple, after seeing my boys run out of a store and race each other to the van, said, "You've got your hands full." They tantrum and cry when they don't get their way. They fight with each other, both with words and with their hands and feet. They go silent and fall behind me when a grown up tries to talk to them. They leave toys everywhere and whine when they are told to clean up and do their chores.
The noise and chaos often overwhelms me. I feel out of control. And yet deep down I know that my kids are not out of control.
But neither am I in control. I do not have control of my kids because they are growing up, they are making more and more of their own choices, and they are starting ever so slowly to take control of their own lives. This doesn't mean that they can take over our house do whatever they want. There are consequences for bad behavior, consequences from us and consequences from the world.
My parenting failure is not that I can't control my kids. My parenting failure is buying into the idea that I can control my kids, that I should control my kids.