My most rewarding role in this life, without a doubt, is being a mom to my 4 daughters. I’ve been a mom since I was 17 years old, so I literally don’t know how to NOT be one. I can’t imagine what it will be like when all of my babies are grown and flown (one already is). I try not to think about it too much, but the reality is that time flies by faster and faster with each passing year and my time as a “mommy” to little kids is precious and running out. I want to cherish every moment.
But let’s be real here…being a parent is so freaking hard. Every stage. The pressure, expectations, and conflicting opinions are exhausting. Should you let a screaming infant cry it out to learn to self soothe or is that going to make them emotionally detached and unable to make connections later in life? Is putting a misbehaving toddler in “time out” going to teach them how to calm down and be reasonable before acting out or will it make them feel isolated and lead to teenage depression? Should you step in when your child is having a problem with a classmate so they know you are always in their corner or do you let them work it out on their own and learn valuable life lessons? Should we be parents first and set clear rules, boundaries and consequences for our teenagers or do we try to be “friends first” so they will be less likely to hide things they are struggling with?
SO MANY ways to screw your kids up, so little time.
I had no idea what I was getting into when I was pregnant with my first daughter. I was a baby myself. I know people had a lot to say (behind my back of course) and assumed I was going to completely screw up our lives, that we would be living off the system and that she would eventually become a statistic and find her teenage self in the same situation. I may not have known a single thing about HOW to parent, but I was certain that I was not going to set her up for a shitty life just because she was not brought into the world under ideal circumstances . I made many parenting mistakes along the way, but I worked hard to provide for her. She had a happy childhood. We always had a nice place to live. She went to good schools and always had lots of friends. When she was little I moved her around more than I would have liked but it ultimately resulted in meeting my husband and settling into a better life with better opportunities. She excelled in high school and continued on to her top choice university and then graduate school. She is now a well educated 24 year old productive member of society with a master’s degree, so all those judgy MFers can SUCK IT.
But, I digress…
Anyway, life took its twists and turns and I now have four children and a wonderful husband and a beautiful home and two dogs and two cars and I work a flexible part time job which allows me to be home for the kids. I have almost 25 years of parenting experience under my belt now, but truth be told, I still don’t know WTF I’m doing most of the time. I’ve never been consistent with discipline, actually I am the worst at discipline. I failed miserably at letting my babies cry it out and to this day I co-sleep with a restless 10 year old. Also, I hated breastfeeding. I make at least 4 parenting mistakes per day and there are days where I would like to just run away and hide from these little humans that keep calling me “mom”.
My point is, there really isn’t a clear right or wrong way to raise your children and we all need to stop comparing ourselves to everyone else. Our family situations and lifestyles and beliefs are all very different. Just because Becky lives in a pristine mansion in the most desirable neighborhood and breastfed each of her perfectly behaved 2.5 children until they were 2 (and loved every minute of it), had them all potty trained by 18 months, reading by 4 and manages to be on time and showered for every single event does not mean that she is a better mommy than me or that her children will grow up to be happier or more successful than mine. It just means that Becky is obviously an image obsessed control freak with unrealistic expectations and is setting herself up for major disappointment when her children develop minds of their own. Kidding, Becky, kidding…kind of.
I’m not saying I’ll be receiving any awards for my parenting any time soon. Lord knows it’s a circus act gone bad most days around here. I’m somewhat confident, however, that I have lived up to the standards I set for myself a while back. I wholeheartedly believe that if we have provided our children with the basic necessities, a good sense of right and wrong and (most importantly) a safe and loving place to call home, then we have done parenting right.
We need to give ourselves a break. This shit is hard and we are doing the best we can.