Editor’s Note: This is a contribution by Nicole Franco
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ~Oscar Wilde”
I have the amazing privilege and overwhelming responsibility of raising three daughters. I’m deliberate in the personal choices I make, knowing I set an example of what a strong, independent woman of integrity looks like.
I don’t always succeed.
As hard as I try to parent gently and with smart guidance, I’m imperfect and sometimes I get 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.
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 weaknesses can actually be strengths.
I’m 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.
Once I woke them up in the middle of the night to see a meteor shower and we had hot chocolate afterward. Yes, they were tired for school the next morning. And yes, it is a memory we share of a lovely experience together.
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.
I will walk alongside my girls on their journey as long as they will let me. I also know I’ll give them a foundation so they can walk strong in the direction they eventually choose, without fear of somehow doing it wrong or not well enough.
4. Learn to laugh at yourself.
Life’s short. When we exert energy to things we cannot control, it only empowers the negative. When you have the choice to laugh or cry, laugh.
I work in a demanding job often with children. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed and think that I can’t provide everything they deserve. Once after a particularly challenging shift, a child noticed my hair was crazy and sticking up and laughed. So I did too. It wasn’t a professionally perfect moment, but I’m sure I was my most authentic.
Having flaws, being vulnerable, and most importantly being true to you 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.
Photo by mythlady