This was originally posted by the Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub here.

If you are a caregiver for a child I want to share with you something that I am trying to give myself more of lately: grace.  This time of year can be quite busy, sometimes chaotic, often stressful and sometimes painful.  It can also be a time of great joy and celebration.  A time where we are hopefully able to relax with our friends and family and remember what is most important to us.  Often it can be a mix of all of these things simultaneously.  Even amidst all this chaos there is still space for grace.

As caregivers we often spend the vast majority of our energy and attention trying to give our little ones the best experiences.  We work so hard to provide for them and give them everything they need and quite a bit of what they want. In doing so we often forget to take care of another very important person: ourselves.  We take on all the worries and stresses regarding our children in addition to the ones we already have from work, life and relationships.  We wear ourselves down and beat ourselves up…trying so hard to be perfect.

So what does it mean to give ourselves grace?  Well, first we have to start with this whole being perfect thing…it will never happen so we have to learn to be okay with our flaws and mistakes and know that we are still awesome in spite of them.  It also means realizing that what our kids really want and need from us the most…is time.  They want to be with us, to play with us and to tell us all about what’s going on in their lives.  They want to know how important they are to us and that during this crazy, busy, stressful time they can count on us for love and comfort.  What I’ve discovered is that when I focus more on being as present as possible as often as possible a lot of the stress, chaos and busyness fades away. This allows me to create some beautiful and relaxing memories that help me remember that I am a great parent…and I have some pretty amazing kids too!

This is fatherhood…