Ten years ago, I would have told you that I was going to rock this parenting gig. I would not even have thought about the ugly truth about parenting. Prior to stepping into Corporate America, I was a teacher and I was quite amazing at it. You know that radio talk show, Delilah? I was such an outstanding teacher, that a bunch of my middle school students called into the show to dedicate a song to me. When my husband and I decided to start our family, I was fully confident that I was going to be just as awesome at being a mom. I mean, how hard can it be? It did not take me long to learn the ugly truth about parenting. No matter how confident or experienced you are with kids, you are still going to feel like a total failure many times throughout your parenting journey.
I could write a book about all of my parenting fails, but I will save that for another day. The truth is, we all suck at parenting from time to time. There is no book that has all the answers and we all make mistakes. While I used to think that parenting would be one of the easiest job that I would ever have, I now know that it is one of the most difficult. Parenting involves a lot of guilt and constantly questioning whether or not you are making the right decisions. Will you make the wrong decisions? Absolutely! Does that make you a bad parent? Absolutely not!
Parenting is Tough
I wish early on in parenting, someone told me that it was okay to doubt my ability to be a good parent. Someone should have been brutally honest with me and told me how difficult parenting can be. I love every ounce of my children, but there is no denying that parenting challenges you to the core. The undeniable love that you have for your child makes that pit in your stomach ache even more when you are unsure of yourself. That feeling sucks!
I have made, what some may consider, some pretty big parenting fails. Despite these fails, I am at a point in my life that I am confident about my parenting choices. I know that I am a good parent. Do I still make mistakes? Certainly! I wanted to share these “fails” with you, in hopes that I will be the person that helps you realize that you really are rocking this parenting gig.
Not Being Able to Breastfeed
For the longest time, I was guilty that I was not able to breastfeed my children. I tried so hard with my daughter, but she would not latch. I ended up pumping and bottle feeding for two months, but I got so many infections and was not enjoying being a new mother at all. As a result, I ended up switching to formula. Boy, was I given the riot act and I felt like I was the worst mom on the planet.
My son was born at 35 weeks and I ended up running into the same struggles with him. I pumped for a few days, but gave into the fact that I was going to be going down the same road as I did with my daughter. I did not want to go through that again, especially with two children at home.
To this day, I still have moments where I question my decision. My daughter was sick all the time as a baby and toddler and I sometimes wonder if the outcome would be different. My son has several food sensitivities and had eczema very bad as a baby. I also think about whether or not he would have the same issues that he has today if I were to breastfeed him. A pit forms in my stomach when I read an article that talks about all the benefits of nursing and it breaks my heart that I was not able to take part in that experience.
I also fell victim to allowing others to make me feel bad about my decision. As I am sure many of you have experienced, there are some very opinionated and passionate mommies out there. I still feel uneasy today when someone asks me if my children were breastfed. Yes, I realize how ridiculous that sounds!
I know that I cannot turn back time and that I did the best thing for myself and my children. I think I will always have that little birdie in my ear questioning my decision, but that is being a good parent. The fact that I doubted my decision because I know that there are so many wonderful benefits of nursing made me a good parent. The fact that I tried to do what I thought was best for my child, made me a good parent.
Putting My Kids in Daycare
As a child, I always pictured being a stay at home mom. I dreamt about all of the amazing crafts and projects that I would do with my kids and how we would spend our days together. I have no idea why I had those thoughts because I am far from crafty and I hate messes! Fast forward to adulthood, and I realized that I really did want to go back to work after kids. In some aspect, I had to go back to work. We probably could have made the necessary sacrifices, but it just made the most sense for my family to be a career mom. Trust me, that decision was not an easy one to make.
I still remember the first few weeks that my daughter was in daycare. Every single day, I broke out in tears. I cried for a variety of reasons, but mostly because I was not sure if I was making the right decision. Guilt set in for actually wanting to go back to work and leave my child with a stranger all day. I felt like it was my poor decisions that caused my daughter to get RSV at such a young age. Every second of the day, I missed her immensely.
Thankfully after a few months and a lot of red wine, I started to feel better about my decision. My daughter was loving her school and I could tell that the “strangers” that were watching her all day loved her too. Since my daughter was doing so well, it was an easier decision to return to work after my son was born.
However, the guilt hit an all time high when my son was just a few months old. My little guy was so excited to meet his family that he came out in about half a push. The quick birth and the pressure caused him to have a flat spot on his head and he developed torticollis. As a result, he needed to go to physical therapy and had exercises that he needed to do several times a day.
Because I was away from him most of the day, I had to rely on the daycare to complete the exercise routine with him at least twice a day. He also needed to stay off of his head as much as possible. His head is still in the process of rounding out and I constantly question whether or not he would still have a flat spot if I was home to do the exercises with him.
Today, I am confident that my kids benefited immensely by attending daycare. They got to experience so much in their five short years of life. As a result, I am very happy with the decision that I made. I think part of the reason that I felt so guilty was that I let friends and even strangers influence my decision. Just like the breastfeeding wars, there are many out there that are very passionate about staying home with their children. I get it and I respect everyone’s opinion. I just wish I did not let others try to influence mine and make me feel like even more of a failure as a parent than I already did in those early years.
Setting Expectations High
Do you know how many times my kids have told me that we have too many rules and responsibilities in our house? My daughter is constantly comparing her bedtime, chores and privileges to her friends. My son once told me that he wished that he lived with one of his friends because they do not have any chores. Man, talk about a kick in the gut! There have been many moments where I have questioned whether or not my expectations are too high when it comes to my kids.
I had a rough childhood and I was forced to grow up fast. As a result, I really did not experience the typical childhood. I was cleaning and cooking for my siblings when I was in kindergarten. When I am deciding what is the best way to parent my children, I need to keep that in mind. I sometimes find myself feeling that my kids should be doing some of the same things that I was held responsible for at that age. Yes, I know that is crazy but it is what I know. I have to remind myself that they are just kids. I want them to be able to experience all of the joys of being a kid. Unfortunately, childhood flies by way too fast!
Trust Your Gut
While I want my kids to enjoy their childhood, I also want to make sure I am raising them to be responsible. As a result, they have chores and they are expected to help with the household tasks. I have been told on occasion that I expect too much from my children. I have to disagree. Teaching my kids to be responsible and self-sufficient does not make me a bad parent. In fact, it makes me a pretty amazing one!
We have plenty of fun and the kids have ample time to play. They do have tasks that they are expected to complete each morning and evening. My husband and I also involve the kids in our weekly cleaning routine. Both of my kids are good in the kitchen and I have taught my daughter to do laundry. These are life skills that are going to be so important for them to have.
Truth About Parenting
So, here is the truth about parenting. No mater how horrible of a parent you think you are, you are wrong. The fact that you are worried about whether or not you are making the right decisions, makes you a good parent. There are going to be times when you make the wrong decision or handle something the wrong way. That is okay. There are going to be times when you are not able to handle something exactly the way you had envisioned. That is okay.
If you are like me, your kids have probably even told you that you are a bad parent. The first time those words came out of my daughter’s mouth, I believed her. I started to think that maybe she was right and I should let her get an iPhone in early elementary school. Thankfully, reality set in and she did not get that phone.
These days, if my kids tell me that I am a bad mom I take that as a compliment. It means that I am standing firm on my beliefs, even when it may be difficult. I am providing boundaries to ensure that my children grow up to be responsible and respectful adults. It means that I am doing what is in the best interest of my children.
I used to get so frustrated when I was not able to be that picture perfect parent that you see in the movies. Today, I am here to tell you that those parents do not exist. We all have many “parenting fails”. We are all going to suck at the parenting gig from time to time. Does that make you a bad parent? No! It makes you an awesome one!