Be amazing. Be pretty. Be cool. Be smart. Be happy. Be strong. And most important, be yourself. ~Anurag Prakash Ray
I had the amazing privilege and overwhelming responsibility of raising three children. I was deliberate in the personal choices I made, knowing I sat the example of what a strong, independent woman of integrity looked like.
I didn’t always succeed.
As hard as I tried to parent gently and with smart guidance, I’m imperfect and sometimes I got it wrong.
All relationships go hand in hand with feelings of regret and disappointment, and a sense we haven’t given our best at some point. Here are a few ways I have learned to parent with grace despite the fact that I am imperfect.
Even if you’re not a parent, you may find these ideas helpful in accepting yourself just as you are—even when you don’t get everything right in relationships.
1. Accept that we are human and humans are messy.
I am most authentic when I am forced to humbly admit I don’t know everything and I sometimes make mistakes. This makes me much more likely to accept the imperfections in others and love them anyway.
It’s easier to be authentic when you take the pressure of perfection off the table—and it’s easier to be compassionate and kind when you understand everyone is messy. That’s life.
2. Use your weaknesses as strengths.
There is only one “me.” The good, the bad, and the ugly all contribute to my uniqueness. So do past experience, hurts, and mistakes. It’s not enough to simply learn from the past. We also need to look at our choices to understand what we’re made of, and in that way either improve or understand how certain weakness can actually be strengths.
I was not the most structured and organized parent. I realize that many would see this as a tragic weakness. However, I’ve seized the most beautiful, spontaneous moments with my children by being flexible and open to possibilities.
3. Be sure of your direction.
It’s not to say that we can’t make course corrections or change our paths along the way. But certain decisions we make regarding which way we move come from our personal moral compass.
Stay true to who you are and what feels intrinsically right to you. You can’t predict the road the journey will take you, but you control your own feet.
Take intentional steps that move you in a direction of staying true to yourself. How you walk might not be perfect, but you can feel confident in where you’re headed. Just remember, you don’t have to see the whole staircase to take the first step.
I walked alongside my children on their journey until they became adults. I also gave them a foundation so they can walk strong in the direction they eventually choose, without fear of somehow doing it wrong or not doing it good enough.
4. Learn to laugh at yourself.
Life’s short. When we exert energy on things we cannot control, it only empowers the negative. When you have the choice to laugh or cry, laugh.
Being a single mom was often times tough. Sometimes I felt overwhelmed and thought that I couldn’t provide everything they deserved. Once, I remember having a piece of food on my face after a meal and my kids started laughing at me. So I started laughing too. It wasn’t my most proud or perfect moment, but I’m sure I was one of my most authentic.
Having flaws, being vulnerable, and being true to yourself are cornerstones of being real. Some things I will work on to evolve and become a better person. Some things are just part of who I am.
Anyone who loves me will love me because of them, not in spite of them.