Before I begin, I should let you know that I’m a dad. So, what’s a dad doing writing on a mom’s blog anyway? Well, I feel like I have had something rolling around in my head that I want to say – to my wife, and to other moms and dads. SO, I’m taking a shot at this, I hope I don’t screw it up because I think it’s important: You are Not Enough.
You Are Not Enough
The Song that Started it All (and may also now be stuck in your head)
We all know the movie, “The Greatest Showman”. It’s been a while since I watched it, but the haunting song “Never Enough” (*listen here*) drew me in and stuck with me. It’s a beautiful, moving, bold song. And as I listened, I realized it’s easy to hear the lyrics in a manner that reinforces the idea that you are not enough. Sad, right? But here’s the good news: if you listen to the song closely, it says “…’cause darling WITHOUT YOU it will never be enough.” As I thought about it, I realized that it’s true – we ALONE are not enough, and never will be… As parents, as partners, as humans, we desperately need other people. We desperately need a “YOU”.
From here, the idea grew: We need to stop trying to be the be-all and end-all for our kids. Stop expecting ourselves and our families to DO everything and BE everything society says we should be. And, stop mounting endless pressure on our significant others, or other parents to conform to an impossible standard. We will ALL inevitably fall short of these expectations. Ultimately, stop trying to act like you’re enough. Because let’s face it, we’ve been on this earth long enough to know that we’re not…
So Now What?
Let’s pause, exhale and come to the shockingly refreshing realization that YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH for your children. Just like the song, this post isn’t intended to be depressing and guilt-inducing. There’s a way to make things better. Here are a few thoughts on how you step into a life surrounded by a real community (and by the way I’m still working on it, so let’s do it together):
1. Be Confident:
The fact is, you are uniquely made to raise your children, and you’re absolutely perfect for them. So, walk in confidence that you’re doing your best for your kid. You just need some help.
2. Find Your YOU:
The “YOU” is different for everyone. My wife Rachael and I have a son with autism. And, though we’re fortunate enough to be parenting him together, we’re definitely not enough for him. And, we’ve realized, that’s okay. We need God, we need extended family, we need our neighbors, we need our therapists and teachers, we need other special needs parents to relate to. Without a real community, it’s just not enough. It’s okay if your community looks a little different – different isn’t wrong it’s just different.
3. Let People In:
It can be hard work. Somehow, we’ve convinced ourselves that it’s easier if I just do it alone, and that’s a dangerous lie. Show people the mess of life. Show people who you really are. Be vulnerable, and show people your struggle. And when you share real life, your friends will step up because they love you. And, better yet, when they need you they’ll feel comfortable enough to give you an opportunity to love them back.
4. Connect With Your Spouse:
For most, this person will be the most vital part of their community. For all us dad’s out there reading a mom blog, let’s not underestimate the power of encouraging the mothers of our children. As parents, let’s pursue the best environment for our children. And, let’s do it together. My wife and I have a therapist, (one of the many important “Yous” in our lives).
She recommended that we schedule a time to “check-in” weekly with each other. We go over the highs and lows of the week, the things that irritated one another, the things that went well and the things that didn’t. And, most importantly, we check in during a peaceful moment. Not at the peak of emotions while we’re both trying to win an argument, but at a scheduled time where we can listen to each other and improve. It’s worked for us, so try it, and see if it can work for you. You can even schedule check-ins with your children and their teachers and their coaches – you might be shocked at what you can accomplish.
Don’t Go it Alone
We’re better together – we’re stronger in community.
So, as you set out to make your goals for the New Year, let’s stop trying to shoulder the parenting burden alone – it takes a village to raise these crazy kids! We need to stop trying to be independent heroes when we’re designed to be in the community. I truly believe that in our family, growth and success as parents have been better reflected by our dependence on others than our independence from others.
How has the idea of a community impacted your life?