A Good Parent
November 19, 2023
Nasly Roa Noriega (she/her/hers), Low Entropy Volunteer Writer
I want to start by remembering this phrase that my grandmother told me repeatedly when I was a teenager: “When you have children, don’t wear yourself out trying to be the perfect parent. Just be a good parent.” At that time I did not understand those words, but today, being a mother of two teenagers with an accelerated pace of responsibilities, feeling exhaustion overcome me and wanting to be the best mom in every way, I remember her and I think that she, with her great experience, was warning me that being a parent is a very complicated task in which to seek perfection. Perfection leads us to demand more than what we can give, and we should only love, support and be the best company for our children.
As time goes by, family demands make us feel exhausted as our responsibilities as parents grow every day. Each stage of life becomes a challenge, and when you think you have taken control, new challenges and new experiences appear that help us to mature, to grow as people. As parents assuming new obligations, many times we start to put aside our own interests, and time flies so fast that we do not realize at what point in our life we stopped caring about ourselves.
In most homes, parents live for their children, forgetting about themselves, making sacrifices for them, exceeding the limits of their physical and emotional capacities to raise them, not giving them space and neglecting not only their own and their partner’s lives, but also their mental health. As parents, we think we are superheroes with superpowers for everything, and we believe that life will not charge us for the physical, mental and personal wear and tear we put into raising a child.
I do not think that children are the end of self-care, but it is we as parents who willingly fall into emotional exhaustion and personal neglect, as we forget our own needs and put the interests of our children or others first.
Physical, mental and emotional health are the most important responsibilities a person should have, because if as parents we are and feel well, our children and the rest of the family will be well too. Taking care of ourselves means loving ourselves, giving importance to our well-being, dedicating to ourselves the time we deserve and giving ourselves the personal space that we often need, and that sometimes goes on the back burner.
Anxiety over responsibilities and the uncertainty of not knowing if we are doing the right thing in raising our children leads us in many cases to mental and physical exhaustion, and sometimes we feel guilty for wishing for moments of peace and quiet. As parents we tend to demand more from ourselves than we can give, and that is where feelings of dissatisfaction, sadness, remorse, frustration and impotence are generated, because maybe we do not want to make mistakes or maybe we just want to be perfect parents.
Delegating responsibilities helps us balance burdens at home, and maintaining personal space and couple time allows us to manage our emotions. Just as children ask for their space, as parents we also deserve our own. Asking for help when we need it does not mean that we cannot handle our responsibilities. On the contrary, it assumes we need support when facing difficulties. We must learn to manage our emotions, breathing deeply, looking towards the horizon with firm feet, avoiding any thought of guilt and above all, remembering that we are alive and that we are happy to be important members of a family.
Although the clock keeps ticking and its hands bring us the passage of time, we must never forget that we will always remain young enough to dream and strong enough to face difficulties. We are valuable, unique and irreplaceable in our homes, so take care of yourself so you can take care of others.
My name is Nasly Roa Noriega. I am Colombian and a mother of two teenagers, Natalia and Alexi, whom I love very much, because with them I learn every day and each stage of their lives is another step that I reach in my life experience. For me family is everything, without it I feel incomplete.
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