"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." ~ Albert Einstein
I guest blogged for Flo Gascon, today, and it was a tough post to write. It is about one of my worst parenting difficulties (and one that I was concerned about avoiding almost all my life). To think of it (even though it is in the past) makes me regretful, ashamed and horrified, as I told Flo, "...that I saw that train wreck coming and did not - could not - pull my children out of the way of it"; they were not kept from harm, though I hope that they did not suffer permanent damage.
It was both hard to write, because of the shame and horror (of it happening despite my fears and attempt to avoid), and yet it came out easily, because it was something I'd been keeping inside for a long time and I needed to let it go. Funny thing, writing... At least for me. It can be nearly as vivid in the retelling/reliving as the actual events/experience, bringing me emotionally to exactly the same place again. And yet, writing has always been therapeutic for me. There is something so natural about the flow of thoughts, emotions, images, sights, scents, sounds & sensations from my brain through my arm into my fingers and then onto paper or into keys and onto the screen. It is one of the few things I can't seem to describe fully - at least to my satisfaction - or convey to someone else. I don't know if it is a "writer" thing (you'd think I'd discuss that kind of thing with other writers! :~) ) or if my skills are just inadequate. But I digress...
As I also told Flo, I feel that the process, the mistakes, the flaws should be shared more with other parents. As hard as it was to write, and as hard as it is knowing that other people are learning of my worst parenting difficulty, I feel it is important to say, for the sake of others. When I first started looking into radical unschooling, I continually felt lacking and "not good enough", because all I read on the groups was perfect success stories of perfect mamas with unending patience, continual energy to fulfill all their children's needs & no lack of ideas for solutions and exciting plans and amazing games and the ability to boost their children's interests with innumerable "connections" (as in, this things leads to that thing, which leads to the next thing). Of course, I know better, now, but there was a time where I nearly gave up on radical unschooling/respectful, gentle parenting because I didn't feel like I was the right personality type, like I wasn't perfect enough to succeed. I believe that more experienced unschoolers and gentle parents need to step up and share their non-stellar moments & experiences and tell those who are just starting out, "You're going to screw up. I screwed up. You may screw up horribly, but if you keep at it and get back on track when you slip up, and keep doing better, you'll get there; and your kids will be better knowing that you're not perfect, either, that you make mistakes, too, and they'll love you more for trying to be a better parent.
That's not to say that "anything goes" and that I'm patting anyone on the back and saying, "Good job.", "You're doing the best you can.", or "Well, you tried." I am saying to keep in mind when you stumble that nobody's perfect, no matter what it seems like when you're reading about better parenting. Everyone has made mistakes, but the reason that there are folks with experience to give good advice and help others be better parents is because they didn't wallow when they slipped. They got up, dusted themselves off, and tried again - most likely, they tried harder. They looked up from the mistake to focus on the goal they were aiming for and went forward. :~)
That is one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place: because I didn't see enough of the mistakes (learning-takes) and errors and "failures" - in fact, I don't remember seeing any. Mistakes aren't optimal and they're not the focus, but knowing that those who have gone before you have fallen repeatedly and struggled to continue along the path of their journey to find success along the way makes it so much easier to pick ourselves up and find the determination to continue on when we stumble.