I’m going to share with you a secret about parenting that I wish I had known when I first stepped foot on this roller coaster they call motherhood. While it applies to all mothers, this one is specifically written for all the new moms, currently wearing the shoes I filled almost 4 years ago now. . .
I know you probably feel really insecure right now. If you’re like me you’re worried that you won’t measure up as a mom. You have a deep urge to prove yourself to every one around you and have them be in awe of your epic mothering skills.
I know it’s hard, every time you turn around there’s some one sharing their opinions with you. From books to movies to blog posts to in-laws and even strangers in the grocery line; virtually every one has an opinion on how your child should be raised. In fact, if you read too many articles on it you’ll probably become frustrated because there are so many contradicting “facts” out there. Each one claiming your child will be scarred for life and surely turn into a poorly behaved hyena if you don’t follow their method exactly and purchase all of their books.
Every other mother you see probably seems more put together and more sure of her parenting decisions. Every glance you receive is translated as yet another person passing judgement on your parenting skills.
When my son was born one of my biggest fears is that the world would find out I didn’t really know what I was doing. Sure, I’d read the books and studied all the latest articles but when it came down to it, my babe would scream and I had no clue what he wanted. I would blunder around our apartment trying to seem sure of myself, pretending I knew exactly what to do when in reality I couldn’t have guessed what he needed if there were 3 million dollars on the line. There were always those times when his diaper was dry, and his belly full, and yet he cried. Nothing can make a new mama feel worse than a crying baby and no hope of figuring out what could be the cause of it!
My kids are 3 and 2 now. In years, I’m not that much farther ahead of my little insecure new-mama self, but in heart I feel so different now. Gone are the days of reading (and sharing) every latest article on all the things pertaining to my children. The innate desire to have other people revel in my parenting ability has disappeared as well. I’m a lot more calm, more at peace and generally a lot happier of a mama. Mainly because I’ve discovered one thing about parenting that no one likes to talk about.
We’re all just figuring it out as we go.
That’s right, every last one of it. The parenting guru who’s written the book on it, and the totally put-together mom from down the street. All of us. We don’t know what we’re doing.
You can read 1,000 articles on child-rearing but nothing truly prepares you for motherhood. You just get thrown in, and you wing it. As soon as you figure out life with a newborn, he starts crawling or walking or talking back and tantruming and you’re sent right back to mommy-school to figure it all out again.
Moms learn and grow with their kids. Sometimes we’re better at it than others. Some seasons are a breeze while others make survival mode seem like a luxury vacation.
So my dear mommy-friend, don’t worry. You’re allowed to find motherhood difficult. You’re also allowed to find it wonderful and happy. Quite frankly you’re allowed to feel one million different ways about it, and all of them in one hour if you’d like.
There’s no official rules beyond loving your kids to the best of your capabilities. All the methods and the studies and the controversies…in the end these are just the bi-product of a bunch of moms trying desperately to look like we’ve got it all together.
I love my kids, sometimes we have fantastic days, and other times I’m counting the minutes ’til daddy gets home. That’s just life with other humans. Particularly humans of the tiny variety.
Hang in there mama. Keep figuring it out as you go. That’s what all the best moms do, and you’re doing just fine.
*Disclaimer: (before the comments start rolling in) Yes, some studies are super-important and life saving. I’m not saying to ignore things that are actually safety issues with your kids. But all the other debates that are so prevalent…. (tv time, breastfeeding or formula, birth methods, sleeping times, baby wearing etc) those are the ones that can be tweaked to figure out your own personal parenting style and how your kid should be raised.
Couldn’t agree more that you just have to wing it. If you plan for “that” baby, chances are that you’ll get something else. And no one thing is going to work for every baby or all of the time. I think getting information about different ways to parent is important, but ultimately you have to decide which is right for you and your child. It’s quite possible that you will make a ton of mistakes trying the wrong things and that’s ok too.
Sarah @ MePlus3...Today! says
Thank you so much for writing this! I definitely feel bombarded by all the different opinions out there, and they make me feel inadequate as a mother. That’s why I won’t give parenting advice, I wrote something sort of along the same lines as you here: http://www.meplus3today.com/2014/06/why-i-wont-give-parenting-advice.html Thanks again for spreading the word that we don’t know what we’re doing and we’re all just trying to figure it out! Great post!
Emma @ P is for Preschooler says
This is so true! Everyone will have an opinion about how to raise your child – and most will share it with you whether you want to hear it or not – but the fact is that no one knows what will work for your child and your family. It’s one of those things you have to learn as you go along!
Love your honesty, sweet Paula!
kelli @ eat pray read love says
absolutely. It’s a take-it-as-you-go kind of gig for sure!
Chelsey Luehr says
I love this, and the premise for your blog “beauty through imperfection”. I’m on baby #4 now, and still feel this way, sometimes. (Sometimes more than I did when I was a new mom, because by the time you have 4 you’re “suppose” to know what you’re doing!) And while experience helps, each tiny human comes with it’s own personality!
Tove Maren says
If you knew how many times I look around thinking “I wish I could this kid’s mom and ask what I should do…” – only to realize that I am the one who is supposed to know. It’s so true – parenting is a “on the job training” gig – and that can be refreshing and scary – all at the same time.
Thankfully we can excuse “mistakes” with: “Well – now we know that doesn’t work for our family – but it may work well for someone else!”
Michelle Wallace says
One of the things I am most grateful for, is that I am 35 years old having my first child. I still have insecure days, but I have a lot more confidence in myself than I used to and it is so much easier to take his screaming days in stride. My friends have all had babies (Some of them graduating the year I have my first child!) so I have watched the struggle.
Despite this, I still have my days. I cried the other day when my son, 11 weeks old, stopped breastfeeding. If I had realized the last time was going to be the last time, I would have paid more attention. So I just keep second guessing what I could have done differently–but the truth is, he’s a baby. There is no rhyme or reason to the decisions. It’s humbling to know I just need to accept things and move on. Thank you for posting this. It’s so easy to look at others when it’s not a competition.