"Always do your best!" It's a lovely and encouraging refrain I've often heard other parents call to their kiddos — as they head into school in the morning, before they play in a big game, or while prepping for an important test. Growing up, I was also told by my parents to always do my best. But when it comes to my family, I won't be saying those words as my brood piles out of the car every day, because frankly, I don't expect them to do their best every day. I just want them to know I'll love them no matter what.
First, I don't always do my best, and I'm an adult! I phone it in every so often. Don't we all? Doing your best every single day is hard and exhausting, and sometimes you just can't. And asking that of my kids at all times is daunting and has the potential to make them feel like failures for not constantly succeeding at things. It can make them feel like their best isn't good enough. Even on my best days, there are things I slack on. Maybe I rush an important email because I haven't had my morning coffee. Maybe I sneak some candy from my kids' collection. Or perhaps I let road rage get the best of me, for just a second. Being human means being imperfect, and messing up, having lazy days, and letting your energy level simmer for a while is all part of that.
Like their sometimes-testy mom, my kids are going to have days when things don't go their way. But they're also going to enjoy super, great, amazing days, too. I want them to try really hard, work their butts off, and enjoy the rewards and satisfaction from achieving something through that hard work, but I don't expect it from them at all times. I tell them, "I will love you no matter what." I say, "If you have a great day or a bad one, I will love you. If you ace the test or fail it, I will love you. If you are perfect, I will love you. If you disappoint yourself, I. Will. Love. You."
I don't need my kids to do their best every second. Just trying works. Isn't that what we all do? Yeah, doing their best whenever they can is a bonus! Regardless, I need my children to know that at the end of the day, no matter what kind of day it was, if they did their best, or did just OK, I am waiting at home for them with the exact same love.
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