I just listened to my husband interact with my 7 year old daughter in a way I did not agree with; I was of the opinion that he was being irrational, that he was letting his own emotions get the better of the situation. I was bothered that he was not able to be more detached and calm in the face of her storm…and not 10 minutes later, I behaved in an appalling way with my 13 year old son. Hypocrisy, thy name is me.
I don't think that makes me wrong about how my husband handled the 7 year old; I just think it means that parenting is pretty much the hardest thing ever, and that nothing demands more grace, forgiveness, patience, second chances, or flexibility. Nothing. Ever.
This is why parenting is the hardest job in the world: you screw up every single day and no one fires you! You still have to get up the next day, look yourself in the mirror, understand full well that you blew it yesterday and that you could very well blow it again today, and that no one will dock your pay, put you on suspension, develop a performance plan, or fire your ass (short of abuse, of course). Instead, you just get to live with the knowledge that you failed. That you failed a person you love.
There is a kind of poetry in that failure. Parenting is an art, not a science. In raising children, there is more beauty than logic, more gift than explanation, more surprises than rules.
In spite of my daily failures, and the daily trying again, and the daily, the countless resolutions to be better, at the end of each day, there are still five heads on five pillows that I love more than I did the day before, and for whom I would do anything, even on the days when I do far less than I intend.