Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Best

We all do it. Some more than others. We second guess. We are disappointed in ourselves. We doubt. We fear that our decisions will ruin our children forever. We beat ourselves up. We morph into a human punching bag. There is always that nagging voice in the back of our head. Motherhood is hard sometimes.

The thing about parenthood that takes a bit of getting used to is that no one has it figured out yet. If ever there was such a thing as trial and error, having kids is it. Sure, there are things that you can read up on before you have your baby. Tips and pointers to learn. Pros and cons of different methods. But what happens when you bring that little person home is another story entirely.

All the books in the world suddenly seem useless. All the advice from friends, family and parenting experts seems not to apply to this kid. And you are left to your own devices. Having no other choice, you have to start figuring it out on your own. You have to learn what works for you. For your family. For this child. And it will almost certainly not be the same thing that works for anyone else. The problem with the so-called experts is that they know nothing about this baby. Or about you.

We beat ourselves up. If that wasn't bad enough, we judge each other. We see the choices that others have made and think they are doing something wrong. Or we are. We judge ourselves and each other about every facet of motherhood. Labor, breastfeeding, sleep patterns, potty training, daycare, preschool, play dates, sports, extracurriculars, friends, parties, phones, makeup, dating, driving, college. I could go on for days about the choices we have to make as parents. About the important things we are faced with. Successfully navigating one phase of parenthood only brings you to another. Most people seem to think that there is only ever one way to cross each of these bridges. Why not instead entertain the possibility that there is more than one way to raise a child?

As women and as mothers, we need to spend less time judging one another about the choices we make. And we need to spend less time beating ourselves up about the ones we are faced with. If, at the end of the day, you can honestly look your child in the eye and tell them that you did the best that you could, that's all you should ever expect. There is no such thing as a perfect parent.

As parents, all we ever want from our children is to know that they have done their best. We can't expect more than that for ourselves.

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