How did I picture preschool for my child? Just like everything else I imagine. All happy-go-lucky, with roses and sugar-coated cherries on top.
Don’t we all picture our children’s lives this way? Perfect? We are going to be the best parents, have the smartest children, the greatest home-lives. And then when reality hits we don’t know what went wrong.
I dropped Callie off for her first day of preschool with a grin on my face and a tear in my eye. How did we get here already I wondered? That afternoon I got a follow-up letter when I picked her up telling me how wonderful my little girl was and how much happiness and enthusiasm she contributed to the group. A mental check mark in my brain as an early parenting success scored.
It wasn’t until mere weeks later I learned that Callie was having a few issues. Her pretty blonde teacher met me at the door with an optimistic smile on her face that could only mean trouble. The way she started was classic: “Callie is such an addition to our group; so charming and full of life…but…you should know there are some things we are working on.”
She proceeded to tell me in a no less bubbly manner that my daughter was having some trouble listening, and had been caught telling a lie as well as stealing. Yes, a young criminal I had on my hands already.
I drove home in tears. My terrible parenting had surely led to a future drug-abuser, jail-bird, schizophrenic, and possibly even worse. What was I to do?
After sifting through my self-pity filled loathing party, my dear friend convinced me that stealing a sea shell and lying by saying she hadn’t hit a boy didn’t deem my daughter a future sociopath or drug dealer. She was simply like all other typical four-year-olds…she was finding herself and learning about the do’s and don’ts of toddlerhood. Just because I’d let her watch too many episodes of SpongeBob, and even Jurassic Park in her dinosaur-loving days…didn’t mean I was a terrible parent.
I think the dreams we let ourselves strive towards as parents are what sets us up for failure. When we don’t reach our impossible goals we’ve set for ourselves when raising our little ones-we automatically are plagued by guilt and assume every small failure our children face is that of our own mistakes and parenting mishaps.
Let’s stop being so hard on ourselves as mommies. Callie is beyond smart; to the point it scares me sometimes. I will do my best to guide her and love her…and know that while neither of us is perfect and we will make mistakes, we are doing our best. And…the best is simply all we can do!