I know the analogy “life is like a journey” can be a tired old cliche, but as a parent, it really is the best metaphor you can use.
Be warned, though: this journey is a road trip, and you didn’t pack enough snacks, everyone needs to go to the bathroom exactly 2.36 miles past the last rest area and/or McDonalds (even though you asked “Does anyone need a bathroom break?” long before you reached the exit), someone gets carsick, the GPS isn’t working, and you threw out the old, ripped, mis-folded and mashed-up paper map when you were scrambling through the glovebox looking for napkins.
And naturally, there’s always someone who thinks they know best when it comes to the best route, and/or your family. Whether it’s your mother, father, pastor, neighbor, pharmacist, plumber, mechanic, or the person who bags your groceries at the market, there are people in your life who don’t know when to keep their advice to themselves. It’s just like having Siri on 24/7 and you can’t switch her off. It will happen from the time you announce you’re going to be a parent until well after the kid(s) are older and have started their lives apart from you.
Keep smiling, say “thanks,” and move on.
You owe those people nothing more than that when unsolicited advice is thrown at you, much like when you decide that the scenic route looks far more interesting than the main highway and Siri responds in that frigid voice “Recalculating.” Yeah, your mother may purse her lips and shake her head when you do things your own way, but she’s not driving this bus, is she?
What happens when we screw up? (because we all do) Well, apologize; fix what you can; move on. Really. I used to beat myself up about all manner of things. Not anymore. Kids have remarkable memories. Believe me, they’re going to remember far worse and more embarrassing moments, and will happily blurt them out at the most inopportune moments in the future on this trip we call Life.
And guess what? No one is going to need therapy! Because “normal” is, after all, just a setting on the dryer.
You’re driving. At least until the kids are 16, right? Even if you’re winging it (like me), you’ve got a general destination in mind, and although you might not have the most direct route mapped, you’re getting there. In the meantime, let someone else drive once in a while; crank up the tunes and sing along; look out the window; be glad you’re taking the scenic route, and enjoy the ride as much as you possibly can whenever you can.