Are You Trying to Be the Perfect Parent?

by denny hagel on October 25, 2010

It was ten o'clock in the evening and the telephone rang… Never good news at this hour I thought as I timidly said "Hello".

On the other end, the voice I had been waiting five long years to hear said, "Congratulations, you have a baby girl, she weighs 7 pounds and is 20 inches long, lots of dark hair and she is in perfect health."

While trying to catch my breath and regain some sense of composure, I half-laughing, half-crying said… "What do I do?"
I don't remember anything Alice, the case worker from the adoption agency, said after that because my mind raced in full gear to all the things I knew were necessary when you have a newborn baby that I didn't have! No bottles, no formula, no diapers, no clothes, no crib…nothing!
Then I heard Alice say, "Denny, it will all be fine, see you tomorrow at 2:00 pm. I am so happy for you!"
The telephone receiver had barely clicked down when I frantically dialed my mother. "Mom, I have a baby girl and I get her tomorrow! You need to come over now!"
Within thirty minutes I was feeling the warm, supportive, loving hug that only mothers can give and hearing the exact words I needed to hear. "You will be the BEST mom. I know you."
Of course all the troops rallied, my sisters and friends divided the list my mother had prepared and took off in different directions to gather all the basics to get me through the first couple of days of this amazing journey that was about to begin in my life.
Although I was the oldest of five children and had helped my mother with my siblings throughout my childhood, I felt as though the weight of the world was resting on my shoulders and I was scared! My emotions were off the charts…jumping from sheer joy to the deepest fear I had ever felt. I thought my heart was going to beat right out of my chest.
Mother took me by the hand to the dining room and poured me a cup of tea (which had been our ritual anytime we visited) and said, "You need to breathe and relax."
Even now, some 32 years later, I cannot find the appropriate words to describe the feelings that I experienced within those first few hours of learning I was to become a mother. I can only imagine it is equivalent to the moment you find out that there is a life growing inside of you. The roller coaster of emotions… joy to terror in 5 seconds flat and back again!
As Mother and I shared these life-changing moments through tears and giggles and lots of hugs, Mother went on to share with me the most valuable advice I have ever received in the 32 years I have been a mother and the 13 years I have been a grandmother raising my grandchildren.
These are the words she spoke…
"Denny you have been entrusted with the life of a brand new soul. Diapers, bottles, and clothes are necessary and easily obtainable. As you begin your relationship with Cally (her name had been decided since I was a freshman in high school) it is important to remember that you are not alone. It is no accident that she is here in your life to be your daughter and you her mother. God has designed this for a reason. There may be days that you are short of diapers, or clothes, and maybe even food, but the one thing you will never run out of is love….always remember your place in Cally's life…it is her life that you are to guide. You won't always have all the answers and that will be okay. No one does. But give her all of what you do have …give her the best of you…unconditional love…honor…respect and as many opportunities as you possibly can…
And most importantly never forget that neither of you will be perfect."
To be the best parent does not mean to be perfect. My mother was right. Give all that you have…concentrate on being the best YOU can be. I was extremely fortunate to have had a mother who understood that parenting begins within the parent. She taught me as a child that I was responsible through my choices for what happened in my life. When I became a mother, she reminded me that this would be true for my daughter…I was to respect her life as her own journey and my role was to guide her…to love her and provide opportunities so that she could become who she was meant to be.
It has become my life's work and passion to pass on this advice to as many parents as possible and to provide them with the tools to become the best parent they can be to then be equipped to raise their children with an understanding of their power to choose. It is my honor and privilege to help you achieve this.

  • Anonymous

    Denny, I have a lump in my throat. I needed to hear this. I’m going to go love and honor my children today.

  • Ann-Michele Timmerman

    This really and truly is an exceptional article that I imagine would help “lift the burden of the world” off many a parent’s shoulders…and isn’t it wonderful that you had the wisdom of your own mother to help guide you on your own parenting journey…!

    I can also somewhat relate to your excitement all those years ago when you found out you were adopting – I myself was adopted and heard my own mother’s excitement many times as she recounts the story of when she and my dad first got me.

    Thank you for the article,

  • Anonymous

    Ann-Michelle, Your comment touched my heart…thank you for sharing from the perspective of one who was adopted.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Charlotte…something tells me you are the type of mother who couldn’t do it any other way…today and every day!

  • Vgazeley

    What a beautiful reminder for all of us. I’ve struggled with parental perfection since my son was born, but it’s getting better as time passes. I do beat myself up sometimes, though, so this is a message I needed to hear. Thank you!

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  • stephanie

    I needed this today,…been a challenging week. thank you

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  • lv2terp

    I love reading all of your articles Denny! This one is so beautiful, thank you for sharing this! Your mom’s advice is FANTASTIC!!!! :) I appreciate your wisdom, and sharing your parenting perspective to incorporate into my own! :)

  • Denny Hagel

    Thank you so much for your kind words…it means a great deal to me to hear from parents :)

  • Denny Hagel

    You are welcome…so glad it helped!

  • Jackie Harder

    Nicely done, Denny. And I think one of the things we need to remember is that our own parents did the best job they could, too.

  • Kim Garst ツ

    Denny, you are the best at getting to the root of all our fears as Mom’s whether we bear them or not. Fear that we won’t be perfect. I love that your Mom said to you “neither of you will be perfect.” Boy, this is sooo true. Thank you for this amazing share!

  • Melissa Michel

    Great post, Denny! God knows that I have made my share of mistakes as a parent. He blessed me with my second daughter 16 years apart from my eldest, and I have learned from my past mistakes and made positive changes. I love your information and you have helped me tremendously!

  • Dr. Daisy Sutherland

    What an absolutely beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing and reminding us that as parents …loving and cherishing each and every moment with our children is a gift that no one can ever take away!! Hugs:)

  • Shelley Webb

    Having raised my own children and then had my father in my home for the last 4 years of his life, it has all come full circle. Certainly I wasn’t a perfect parent NOR a perfect daughter.

    I learned from my father how much they gave up for us in order to pay medical and medication bills (all 4 children have a similar disease). These are things you never think of as a child when your world is so egocentric.

    Your words that “neither one of you will be perfect” really resonate with me.

  • Shari

    What a wonderful story, Denny. Just beautiful. I am so far from perfect as a mother (or as anything). The best I can strive for is to be good enough.

  • Lermit Diaz

    Great article Denny. We have two daughters (17 & 19), and we have a great relationship. We have work hard to be great and fair with them, but never perfect…

  • Vicky

    A truly beautiful article. Thank you so much for sharing Denny.

  • Edmund Lee

    Thanks for sharing such a beautiful story Denny. Your mom’s words were priceless. There’s no book that could teach how to be a perfect parent. It’s giving your best that makes a big difference.

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