It takes some courage for me to write this stuff. Putting it out there that I don’t have all the answers (or even half of them), is terrifying. Admitting that even after TWO YEARS of being a parent a great majority of the time I still feel like I have no clue what I’m doing is embarrassing-and even though deep down I KNOW that I am doing my very best, there are voices in my head that whisper that my ‘best’ is never enough. Thanks to society, we have these preconceived notions of what a “good parent” is, and the messages we receive about what it means to be a ‘good’ parent come from every possible source: the internet, tv, parenting magazines, friends, strangers. Am I a bad mom because I wasn’t able to get it together to decorate the house for Halloween? Or because I still nurse my now two-year old to sleep? Am I rotting my daughter’s brain because I allow her to watch Sesame Street (or heaven forbid, some Mickey Mouse)? Am I going to scar her by sending her to preschool? Is she going to resent me and feel abandoned because I worked instead of being a stay-at-home mom? Then there are the even scarier thoughts…will she like me when she gets older? What if she hates me? What if I fail her?? OMG I’m already failing her…This is what makes parenting so tough: there is no manual, and there are no guarantees.
I have always been so good at following directions. Tell me explicitly what to do, give me instructions, and I can do just about anything. But throw me into a situation with zero guidance armed solely with a tube of Desitin? I’m going to flounder. When Little C was born, I didn’t even know how to change a diaper. I had no clue how to breastfeed. I was so cavalier about the whole having a baby thing until she was actually here, and then it was like this huge “OH SH*T” moment. I stared at this impossibly tiny person, who I loved so much and was so equally terrified of, and I felt lost. I felt panicked. I felt scared and alone and I wanted to cry. And cry I did. I cried for several of the first months after Little C was born. Sometimes from sheer exhaustion, other times from fear. I cried out of love, and because a huge piece of my heart now lived outside of me and that realization coupled with the fact that life would never, ever be the same, tore through me like nothing I had ever felt before.I lost my father very suddenly at the age of twelve. At the age of twenty-one, I got sober. Neither of those incredibly tough experiences compare to how hard it is to be a parent. When people ask me what it is like to be a mom, I tell them that it is the most difficult, most amazing thing that I have ever done. Because it IS incredible. It IS wonderful. Being a parent has brought me more joy, more love, than I ever thought possible.
Remember the “You’re Doing OK, Mom” commercial from J&J? If not, watch it. It may be cheesy or melo-dramatic, but man it pulls on the heart strings. And it’s something that we, as parents, as moms, need to hear more of. I have plenty of friends who work and plenty more who stay at home. And you know what the one commonality is amongst them? They all have guilt, feel fear, deal with struggles, and love deeply. Each and every one of them has moments where they feel insecure, moments where self-doubt sits upon their hearts and they worry that they are not doing it RIGHT. What it comes down to is that there is no right or wrong, whether you formula feed or breastfeed, co-sleep or cry it out. Do I have my personal choices and opinions? Sure. But what YOU are doing is great because it is YOUR family, YOUR child, YOUR decision. YOU ARE DOING GREAT. None of us are perfect-hell my two year old won’t go to sleep without a boob and screams “I NEED BOOOOOOOBIE” at the top of her lungs until I give in and rock her to bed. I bought a million books after Little C was born, trying to find THE ANSWER, and while I learned plenty about swaddling and breathable bumpers and types of bottles, I never came across the how-to manual that I desperately searched for. What I have come to realize is that this is life-there are going to be questions and doubt and great love and tears, but at the end of the day, we are all doing the best we can. You are doing just fine, mom. You’re doing great.
Thank goodness for moments like the ones below….they make it all worth it. Thanks for reading! Muah <3