Perfect Parenting

This is a letter to my kids, both under 3 years old, to give to them when they get older about parenting and the myth of perfection. There are certain things that I always wanted to do, but kept putting off. When I started the urban samurai, I just started doing them. This letter is one of them.

Dear kids,

I still remember the time when my parents’ jokes made me belly laugh. When their hugs made me feel better. When their approval made me glow. When I was a child, my mom and dad, your grandparents, were in my eyes…perfect. That was a long time ago.

In your eyes, right now…I’m perfect. And I can’t imagine what it is going to be like when you don’t feel that way.

But it is inevitable. Heartbreaking, but inevitable. And if you’re old enough to read and understand this, it happened already.

The problem with being the object of perfection is that there is nowhere to go but down. And that cliff is steep and the landing will not be soft. Not for you. Not for me.

There was a moment when you realized that only some of my jokes are funny. That my hugs, while nice, won’t solve your problems or make your pain go away. You figured out that I only have a few answers to the myriad of life’s questions. And as I got older, the world will have changed so much that only a few of those answers are still relevant. You have most likely seen with your own eyes that I get scared, feel uncomfortable, get lonely, and feel badly when my feelings get hurt. And there are so many more chinks in my paper-thin armor; including things I’m not even aware of, and those things are most likely glaring to you. You now see, like everyone else has known for years, that I am far from perfect.

And it’s because of the perfection myth which I perpetuated, the one that I probably scratched and clawed to keep alive, that the fall was so great.

One day, I hope you will have kids too. Then you will see that look in their eyes when you take them out of their crib in the morning. When your kiss makes their skinned knees feel better. When they refuse to let you leave your house when ‘you forgot to get one more hug’ as you both say right now. When your kids show you they completed a puzzle or teach you how to do a ballet twirl, and that’s the highlight of THEIR day, not just yours.

That air of perfection that hovers over your head that comes from your kids will feel better than any feeling you have had in your whole life. Maybe you will be smarter about it than I was. Maybe you won’t hold onto it as tightly as I did. But I kind of hope not. Because it is like feeling a miracle happening over and over again. And I pray that you experience that.

I am working on myself too. I started something called the Urban Samurai. Which is a way of modern day life modeled after the Japanese samurai warriors of old. A pursuit of perfection in all areas of life…and it’s not easy. And I’m not great at it yet. Depending on what age you are when you read this, you will probably be embarrassed, roll your eyes, or get angry because it’s so typical of your father ‘to do something so stupid.’ But it has been really good for me. It’s opened my eyes to some things about my life and my personality that I can improve upon. It gives me stuff to work on. And when you get set in your ways like I have, there are plenty of things you should work on.

But I’ve realized there is one aspect of my life that needs no help. I am perfect at something…and that’s loving the two of you. It’s complete. It’s unwavering. There is nothing anyone in the world can do to change it, not even you. This is not an opinion…it’s definitive. My love for you is perfect.

I am trying to raise you the best way I know how, but that’s not always going to be the best way. It’s not always going to be perfect. Because there are no perfect people in this world, no one can be the perfect parent, not even with perfect love. And I know some of the things we do as parents are going to make you angry at some point in your life. Hopefully you can take solace in the fact that we really tried. That’s not the consolation prize anyone wants, but it’s the best we can all hope for as sons and daughters. And it’s the reality we have to live with as parents.

So when I call and you don’t answer sometimes, I’ll understand why. And that’s OK.

Hopefully this helps you understand why I call again the next day. And the next. And the next. Ready with a joke, hoping to hear that belly laugh. Ready with a hug or a kiss to help ease that pain. Ready with some bit of wisdom that gets you through a tough time. Or pushes you over the hump for something you really, really want. I want to be there to celebrate every win you ever have in your life. To be there to commiserate with every loss. Because those wins and losses will all become mine as well.

So, I apologize for hawking you at times with too many calls, too many emails, and too many visits. I’m just striving to get our relationship back to the way it is right now as I write this…perfect.