The Moment I Realized I Failed Parenting. How About You?

A single letter that arrived in the mail made me realize I've failed at parenting. Even worse, I'm out of time to fix it.

My daughter will tell you I’m crazy.

She doesn’t understand.

At all.

Somewhere between two days before Christmas and New Year’s Eve I simply had a revelation.

That I messed up.

Not my mother-in-law’s chocolate pie.

Not my first novel.

Though, I certainly did a fine job of making a disaster of both of those.

I’m talking big.

As in parenthood.

Yeah, I messed up parenthood.

The awareness has been creeping in our home with each arriving college acceptance letter.

The sixth showed up just days before Santa.

I finally got it.

Daughter is leaving.

She’s good as gone.

She’s already designing her dream dorm room at the college she has yet to select.

Which means,

Time is up.

My turn is over.

and I blew it.

I suddenly realized all the things I haven’t done for her.

With her.

I never made a single scrapbook.

There were no ornaments on our Christmas tree.

We don’t spend every Friday night uproariously laughing around board games.

I could go on and on.

Perhaps, you can relate, Dear Reader?

It’s not just about parenting.

It’s about anything you only get one pass at.

Your wedding.

Seeing Paris for the first time.

Throwing a surprise party.

Tie dying a white t shirt.

There are no go backs.

I don’t come by this “I Want Another Turn” pity party genetically.

My own mother was the least sentimental of parents.

“You got what you got. Now go do your best,” I could hear her saying, keeping her promise of not totally leaving when she passed last August.

“I will haunt you the rest of your life,” she said a part or her final words.

Tender, no.

Truthful, yes.

And actually helpful.

Her words made me realize I didn’t lose my mind.

I simply overdosed.

On social media.

Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram where you and I watch holidays, families, trips, parties, lives and puppies unfold to complete perfection.

How easy it is to lump the entire internet into one person and compare myself to Imaginary Her.

I’m realizing this is actually my biggest failure.

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The mom creating the perfect scrapbook isn’t the CEO introducing her kid to celebrities. And she’s not the one tucking her kid in each night or putting a home cooled meal on the table and tucking her kid in each night with customized storybook time.

We all get a little bit right, 

Plenty wrong,

And somehow never get around to the rest.

This thought made me feel better.

A bit.

So did going to a movie my daughter.

“That was fun to do together,” I offered.

“Sure, yeah,” she tepidly agreed as she shut her door. “I’m going to go look at dorm room ideas.”

“Maybe we could look at designs together?” I suggested.

“Are you crazy?” she replied.

“Yeah, as a matter of fact I am.”

Here’s to crazy.

To imperfect.

To incomplete, even.

To no do-overs.

Simply accepting you’re done.

Done your crazy best.

((Please catch my column each week in The Atlanta Journal Constitution, The Dayton Daily News and other Cox Newspapers across the country.)))

And if you enjoy this column about parenting, you might enjoy my book,

“Hope Possible: A Network News Anchor’s Thoughts On Losing Her Job, Finding Love, A New Career, And My Dog, Always My Dog.”

final front cover



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The Moment I Realized I Failed Parenting. How About You?

by DarynKagan time to read: 2 min
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