As parents, we spend so much time worrying. We worry about our children and how they're doing in school. If they have friends or are being bullied. Whether they will be able to live independently. If they'll hold down a job. Will they ever find love?
We worry about ourselves, too. When our families don't recognize how difficult it is, we are not good enough. When someone looks at us side eye in the supermarket, we are unworthy. When our partners don't agree with us, we are unloved and unloveable. When professionals argue with us, we are incompetent. When we stay at home with our children, we've lost our value. When we work full-time, we are uncaring parents.
We have so much to beat ourselves up about. We spend our lives in fear. And then we turn around, ten years, fifteen, twenty years have gone by. And we've spent our whole lives constricted, afraid, boxed in by what people think. We are afraid to laugh, afraid to change, afraid to let go of the fear.
We think if we let go of the fear, we let go of helping our children.
"I wish I'd let myself be happier." This is the regret that many people express at the end of their lives. I wish I didn't worry about what other people think or what I "should" be doing. I wish I didn't spend so much of my life in fear, did what I could, and let go of the weight of all that worry.
What's the best way to help our children? Our relationship with them is the single most important factor in their lives. How can we help them relax, let go of their fears, connect with people, laugh, and truly enjoy their lives no matter what happens ... when we can't do that?
Can you let go of fear, knowing that feeling fear does not help you control outcomes? Can you let go of worry, knowing that you could spend your life unhappy and it didn't help? Did you consciously choose to spend your life unhappy or have you slipped into it - because you're parenting, because life is intense, because you think you needed to?
Know that you are better without the fear, without the worries, without the anxiety of where you should be, of where your child should be, of what your life should look like. Know that you are better for yourself and your child when you let yourself be happier.
Find out again who you are, what you enjoy, what brings laughter into your life. This is what we need for ourselves. This is what our children need. That charismatic, joyful spark between the two of you - when you let go of the fears and judgments, when you chase the laughter - that is what builds the lifetime foundation for both of you.
Don't let another year pass by that will cause you to say, "I wish I would have been happier."