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When I worked in the corporate world, we often had what are known as “post-mortems.” These meetings followed large-scale team projects that often took months of effort. They were meant to serve as analyses for what went right and where we could improve particular processes for the future.

As parents, don’t we do our own post-mortem analyses on a regular basis? I know that nearly every day I’m questioning myself whether I’m teaching my children all the life skills they’ll need once they leave our nest, within an atmosphere of love and acceptance. When my children argue with one another or disobey me, I often hold myself responsible for not being better at disciplining them, taking the blame as being ineffective in some way as a parent. And that’s just one example of my perceived inadequacies in this job that is, undoubtedly, the most important one I’ll ever have.Photo: sparksphotographers.com

Kudos to the many parent bloggers out there, some of whom have practically made their livings poking fun at their regular parental undoing, using self-deprecation to portray the daily grind in their households. I love reading humorous accounts of others’ catastrophic days and am grateful to enjoy a little levity myself on my own dark days. After all, isn’t it often easier to say we really stink at this job?

But speaking truthfully, most of the parents I know should be confident giving themselves regular pats on the back for a job well done. My goal is make 2014 a year where I savor the successes and minimize the maladies. As an innate perfectionist, I’ll never relinquish certain expectations for myself or my children, nor should any of us. But I’m learning to celebrate the little moments.

Here’s a glimpse into that happy realm. Recalling our family’s outings over the holidays—lunches out, trips to children’s attractions, a visit with friends—all three of our children thanked us after each occasion. Sure, they fought with one another in the minivan, kicked our seats, and asked us repeatedly to change the radio station. Yet without prompting they showed appreciation. Having well-mannered children in a society that often lacks civility matters. I’m cherishing this win, even if it’s a small one.

At bedtime, their floors may be heaped with toys that haven’t been put away, but they never forget to kiss us and their siblings good night, or to pause and say a prayer, thanking God for their daily blessings. Could they truly be learning gratitude?

I’m slowly acquiring the ability to give myself credit and realize that raising our family, amidst an ever-changing world, is not a project to be analyzed or dissected. We don’t sit in a conference room reviewing what went wrong after we were unable to encourage our younger two children to share their toys. Some of these perceived mistakes we make as parents may even serve to help our children learn that life is about being adaptable, where changing our behaviors can lead to the best possible outcomes. Children nor parents should ever be expected to attain perfection. It’s not natural.

Sometimes, just a hint at another perspective often helps, pulling me out of a plunge dive into a pool of mommy mea culpas. Just recently, I read about how roughhousing can actually benefit children in numerous ways. There’s even a book about it: The Art of Roughhousing, by Anthony DeBenedet and Larry Cohen. Only hours prior to unearthing this piece of literary advice, my husband and I were unable to stop our children from rolling around on the living room floor in a series of wrestling moves sure to rival stars of the WWF, while their grandfather was shrieking, predicting their trip to the hospital for stitches. Did we help our children by failing to intervene? Maybe.

Even if my pride gets overrun with pity some days, I’ve made a pledge to try my best to focus on the good, and show admiration to my children when it’s warranted. As a family, we are all learning to work together on the biggest project of all—life.

Julia Sherwin is a freelance writer and mother of three who lives in Chester County. She is a former college journalism instructor who enjoys running, biking, swimming, traveling and cooking.

Email her at jsherwin73@gmail.com  and followe her on Twitter @JuliaSherwinPoPYou can also follow her other parenting articles at juliasherwin.wordpress.com.

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Photo: sparksphotographers.com