You know the saying, "dance like nobody's watching"?
I have my own version.
Okay It's totally different.
But it's still worth remembering.
Mine conjurs an image that's a little less Woodstock and a little more Mr. Rogers.
It's one that I can lean on in my hardest days.
"Parent like someone is watching."
When things get real – like they so often do – just pretend you are not alone.
But more powerful than you might think.
Imagine that in the room with you is someone you respect.
Not anyone who would ever judge you, but someone who's attitude, opinion, and parenting is an inspiration.
Someone who helps you tap into your own patience and compassion.
Whether fictional or real, imagine them at the edge of the room.
Your sister. A friend. Or heck, Mr. Rogers himself.
Then parent like they're watching.
And watch as you find a hidden well of patience and kindness that you didn't even know was there.
Because here's the thing.
When I'm around like-minded friends or even strangers I can rock this.
I'm on my game.
I don't act like a bully or cave to constant distraction.
And when things go haywire I rise when I could dive.
Just knowing others are there gives me the strength I need to draw on.
I suppose that is community – in one form or another.
And yes, accountability.
To see ourselves more clearly through the eyes of another.
To feel like we are not alone.
The truth is, you are not alone.
We are all walking our own paths, but they are parallel.
We're each there doing our own work, just out of each other's line of sight.
And we have up days and down days.
Magical days and disasters.
We all struggle sometimes.
Today I was briefly a jerk to my kids.
They both needed compassion and I was shorter and less tender than I could have been.
And then I realized that I might have acted differently if someone was watching.
Not because anyone else matters more than my child, but because I would have been more self-aware.
It was awakening.
Because my kids are more important than that.
And yours are, too.
So today – wherever you are and whatever goes down – parent like someone is watching.
Someone you adore, respect, and love.
Someone who matters more than anything.
Parent like someone is watching.
Because someone is.
Yes. Of course.
Parent like your child is watching.
Because indeed. And of course.
Originally published in 2014.