The kids (and parents) are all right
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My sister recently went out with some old friends and colleagues for a reunion-type gathering that happens every couple of years. (She and I used to work together at the same organization, though I wasn’t in her department.)
The next day, she told me about the night, filling me in about what everyone was up to these days. She talked about how nice it was to see folks she hadn’t seen in years, and then she said something that almost knocked me off my chair.
Someone (maybe even more than one) had commented about how her and I are always out and about doing something with our respective children.
We both were taken aback by this comment, because we are close and our kids are close and we do try to give our children as many experiences as we possibly can, whether it’s going out someplace at a cost or enjoying time together in a free capacity.
However, it never feels like it is enough. As much as the kids are out making memories and having the experiences that we’re posting about, they’re spending just as much time, if not more (though undocumented on social media), on screens, devices, or with toys off to themselves.
The comment gave way for a two-pronged realization: first, a reminder that the things we see and post on social media are a highlight reel; second, my sister and I are doing better than we thought we were — and we are doing enough.
The first is obvious. It’s an easy concept to understand that social media is kinda fake, and we tend to post the beautiful highlights of our lives and leave out the mundane, unless we can make it look esthetically pleasing.
When we scroll through Instagram, we are privy to everyone’s shiniest moments and all of the things they want us to see. However, this is the only glimpse most of us get into other people’s lives (unless, of course, we see or talk to them on a regular basis). It’s more access than we’ve ever had to friends and acquaintances and more than they’ve had to us, leading us to believe we have the inside look.
And we do… but so much of it is curated, and so much of it is left out.
It’s easy to forget that.
The second is the kids are all right, and we are doing enough.
I say the ‘we’ as a collective, meaning me, you, and most out there who are doing their best to balance being good parents on top of everything else.
It’s hard. Raising humans is relentless, and there isn’t any kind of instruction manual. It’s rewarding and, sometimes, the complete opposite of rewarding. It’s also the kind of thing that even when you fail at it — and, by God, you will constantly fail at it — you never stop trying.
That right there, that is enough.
I can’t tell you how many days I have slogged through, just barely meeting the bar of mediocrity (or at least feeling that way) or how many times I’ve had an unfair but human reaction to one of the kids when I’ve gotten upset.
The times I have raised my voice or yelled at them will always be my biggest shame, even if they’ve long forgotten. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve handed a kid a tablet instead of suggesting a game or experience that would be far more special or memorable or how may consecutive hours of Roblox they play some days.
However, at the end of the day, if we keep loving our children for who they are, and we keep trying to do our best, that is enough.
Maybe it’s not enough for the highlight reel on Instagram, but it’s enough for what really matters.
Columnist, Manager of Reader Bridge project
Shelley is a born and raised Winnipegger. She is a proud member of the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation.
Updated on Monday, February 6, 2023 11:11 AM CST: Grammatical fix