I’m trying my absolute best to be the best parent I can but damn it is so hard for me.
You're not alone.
I honestly believe that each of us parents is doing their best. And yes, that even includes the parents that are abusive (but that doesn't mean it's okay on any level). That is the best they can muster based on the way they were raised, based on where they're at in their polyvagal state and based on their possibilities for change. At the same time, I know damn well they are capable of more.
I don't know what your best is though, Reader. I have zero doubt that every parent is potentially capable of being loving, supportive, nurturing co-regulators. We're not all there. And if we are, sometimes it comes and goes. I know it does for me too.
So I think that's where we need to start. I truly believe you're doing your best. But I'd have to ask you, are you capable of more? I'm not asking you or any other parent to be perfect. That's just not possible, I don't think. I honestly have no idea what that looks like. Let's just dump that idea right away. Perfect isn't going to happen. So there's some room for "failure" here, for lack of a better term.
But again, are you capable of more? Of course you are. If you have a problem with yelling, I know you can reduce it tomorrow. You can. Are we able to agree on that? Are you physically capable of yelling less? Absolutely.
So there's some room for failure, but there's also some room for improvement.
What I need every parent to do is to make the choice to do one step better today. One step better than you did yesterday. That can look however you want it to look. That might mean you write an "I love you"note instead of not giving any love messages at all. Or maybe playing for 20 minutes with your kiddo instead of anxiously re-cleaning the house or sleeping the day away (real life examples that occur all too often).
Are you capable of taking it one step further? Absolutely. Will that be your best? Yup. And can you take it one step further the next day? Heck yes. You do this enough, and your "best" looks a lot better than it did a few months ago.
Point being, we're all doing our best. We really are. But we can do better. Answer this for me -
Are you capable of being a better parent today than you were yesterday?
Can you identify at least one change you can make today?
Will you do it?
If you answered "yes" to question 3, congrats, you're on your way to being a more efficient co-regulator.
If you answered "no" to question 3, that you won't make a small change, I have a follow up question for you...
4. Are you okay with that?
Are you okay with doing nothing different today? Are you okay with not taking a small step forward in your parenting? If your answer is "yes," I really can't help you then. That really concerns me, honestly.
If you answered "no," then I want you to take away your judgment for a moment and notice that feeling. You're not okay with it. You're not okay with how you are as a parent. That tells me you have some fight in you. Listen to that. Honor and respect it. Notice it. Give it love and nurturance and let it come out.
Keep being the best parent you can. Make a small change for the better every day. Forgive yourself for the judgment. Apologize to your kids if you need to. Please go easy on yourself. Slow down. Remind yourself how much you love your kids and let that feeling sweep over you.
You are doing your best. And you'll do one better.