Consistency. Apparently it’s the key to good parenting.
(I’ve read that confidence is the other key. If you believe you’re a good parent, your kids are more likely to believe it, too. Of course, Mary Poppins says what’s most important is being Firm But Kind, so who knows, really.)
Some days I am super consistent, and then other days I mostly just want a nap.
I consistently love the heck out of my kids.
But other than that, I measure most parenting things on a sliding scale, rather than ‘consistent/not consistent.’
Yesterday when the kids all tied bandanas around their faces and demanded ice cream (“Give us all your ice cream! Please”) I had to say yes. Today I said no so that their bandit ways would not become a habit.
Sometimes I value one thing most, sometimes another. I can understand that from the outside, it might look inconsistent and crazypants. (I would choose the word “complicated.”) Eh, that’s okay. I can see what I’m trying to do.
We can be complicated. We can even seem contradictory sometimes.
Because consistency is good, but it’s not the only good thing — in parenting or in life. Trying new things is good, too. Change is good. It’s also good to be really brave and say, OOPS that new thing I tried isn’t working, I’m going to try something else. That is one of my least favorite sentences, but it’s still good.
I think half the time we’re afraid to try anything at all, because we’re thinking two steps ahead: What if this doesn’t work and everyone else finds out I was wrong?
Lots of us walk around with this picture in mind, this fear that you’ll try something and it won’t work, and Everyone Else will point and laugh at your attempt to bike to work or to grow your own veggies or to use gentle parenting techniques or whatever thing you choose to try.
(And I guess they might, but most Everyone Elses that I’ve met are too busy with their own lives to notice mine.)
Being right isn’t actually the point.
Trying is the point. You aren’t setting out to earn your Getting Everything Right the First Time badge. There is no Getting Everything Right the First Time Badge.
You don’t have to be perfect, and you don’t have to make perfect choices one hundred percent of the time. You aren’t a marble statue, unmoving and unmoved. You’re changeable. You adjust.
Your life is a journey, and you’re allowed to correct course. Thank goodness. If we could only sail in one direction forever, we’d all crash into the rocks before we got anywhere interesting.
You do your best to make choices that fit — but sometimes they don’t, and you get to choose again. Sometimes you turn out to be wrong. Oh well.
So you change your mind.
So you make mistakes.
Yes, sure, consistency is important, but most choices — even the ones you thought really hard about and chose on purpose — are not a lifetime commitment.
You can choose again. Start over, try something different. More ice cream tomorrow.
You might be wrong. It might not work. That’s okay.
All you have to do is choose to try.