The timer on the microwave went off signaling it was time for me to leave. I turned the stove off shouting a thousand instructions at the kids, the spouse and my mom as I left. I opted to take the longer, winding back roads to the kid’s school. The radio was on and the ethics lawyers for Obama and Trump were discussing the ethics of the President Elect being a businessman while in office. I half-listened and drove on auto pilot. Pulling into an empty parking lot, I hurried into the school just as the clock showed 8:00 AM. I was right on time.
We sat, three of us adults at a child’s table, our knees bent to fit into child sized chairs. The women who care for my daughters all through the school year were just starting their day. Thick yellow folders lay in front of me detailing progress through the IEPs (Individualized Education Plans) in place. I hardly looked at them choosing instead to fall into the cadence of their voices as they painted a picture of my girls’ school day.
I spoke and they listened. I gave voice to my concerns about bullying in class, about being socially isolated, about struggling with focus. They nodded, empathy rising from both of them in waves. We sat there bonded by my children each wanting the best for them. We spoke of regression in learning over the winter break. We discussed options for the summer break. We talked about tutoring. We talked about things I could do as a parent to help.
Just as my shoulders slumped from the weight of it all, their home room teacher’s voice cut through the air.
“You are a good parent, you know that right?”
I looked up not quite understanding the import of it. I nodded, absently and then it hit me. I sat up straighter, my eyes alert and a smile breaking through my face. The two of them laughed at my reaction. I joined in.
The drive back was just as smooth, the car flowing with the traffic, my limbs guiding the vehicle from muscle memory. The houses appeared and disappeared on each side, I stopped automatically at the stop signs and sped through vacant stretches until my development appeared in view.
Getting Laddu ready for school, my mind kept going to the good parent part and my surprise at hearing the words. Most days, I am ready to believe the worst of me. I beat myself up for lapses in judgement, not making enough, not giving enough. I worry about not being the best parent I could be, choosing to magnify the flaws and dismissing successes as an aberration. Hearing someone else remark on what they see amidst the many children they herd each day gives weight. It makes me pause and analyze what I do each day. It makes me want to believe I can be better without dismissing what I do. It makes me sit up straighter, take pride in the wins and almost believe my children are getting the best possible mothering they can hope for.
If you are a parent like me wondering if what you do is enough, stop and tell yourself that you are a good parent. You are the best parent you can be to your children. You deserve that as do your children.