Being a mother has been one of the most challenging phases in my life. However, it has certainly been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.
But there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t question if I’m doing it right. And while I know there’s no “right” way to be a parent, I wonder if I’m doing everything I can to shape and mold my little humans into good people. Am I teaching them right from wrong? Am I teaching them to respect others? Am I setting limits without stifling their creativity and free spirits?
Everyone has advice on how to parent. The elderly woman in the grocery store who tells you how she did it when she had four kids. Or the random person on social media tweeting about it. Everyone has an opinion, and I say opinion because how you choose to parent is your opinion. There are “proven methods” and basic things like vaccinations (which even that has turned into a choice…), essential dietary requirements, etc. But at the end of the day, how you choose to parent and how you see fit is totally and utterly up to you.
I don’t eat organically, and neither do my kids. In fact, majority of the time, my kid prefers chicken nuggets, pizza, macaroni and cheese, and fish sticks. He also loves yogurt, apples, carrots, and cucumbers… but he doesn’t eat perfectly by any means.
I don’t work with him at home. I’ve tried to sit down and do activities and he wants nothing to do with it. Painting lasts 10 minutes and coloring, 5 minutes. We read and talk about numbers, colors, etc… but academic activities from 9-12 or something like that is just not something that’s worked for us. Maybe it’s because I have another mobile little person running around, or the fact that he just doesn’t like to sit still. But ask him anything, he’s super smart and picks things up like a sponge.
He doesn’t have a bedtime. Which I’m not proud to admit, because once he starts school we are going to have our work cut out for us. I plan to get him on a routine in the next few weeks but he hasn’t until now. I know parents that have strict routines and bedtimes and sometimes, I envy them. But I can’t force it to work right now and one day, it will all fall into place.
He talks back, as most three year olds do. He says things in public that make me want to hurl myself off the nearest bridge. He throws tantrums, runs away from me, and makes a scene at least once during each shopping trip.
We don’t go to church. I pray daily, and he prays before meals, but we haven’t attempted church as a family yet. We haven’t found one in the area, but we also just don’t think the kids will sit through a mass. And yes, they probably have a nursery and yes, maybe we will try someday. But for now, it’s not something we do.
I curse. And as much as I try and watch what I say, sometimes it just slips out. Do they repeat it? Sometimes. And they get a quick lesson on how it’s not a nice word and that sometimes adults can say things kids can’t. And they shouldn’t repeat it.
Sometimes I drive them around so they’ll fall asleep. I don’t even tell them we’re going somewhere anymore… I tell them we are driving around so they’ll fall asleep. If they’re not going to nap on their own, I’m going to try and make them. Everyone needs a nap… it’s a proven fact you learn more, feel better, and have more energy after a nap. And damn it, mommy needs a break.
I hate character apparel. Shoes, shirts, jackets.. I hate it. But my kids love it. How can I deny my child Spiderman shoes that he loves because I think they look cheap and cheesy? I can’t. Because he’s a kid, and he should be happy and love kid things for as long as he can. And because one day, he’s going to want a North Face backpack or the most expensive Nike shoes he can find. And I’ll wish he wanted that $19 pair of Mickey Mouse shoes at Target.
Our TV is on all day. I can’t stand silence and I love to have it on for background noise. He doesn’t sit down and watch it all day, but it is on. Sure, we could put music on instead and yes, sometimes I do. But I love to have the TV on in the background and he can choose to sit and watch if he wants. We go outside and do other things but TV is an option a lot of the time, especially while I’m nursing Miss P.
Am I the perfect mother? No. Not by any means. But my kids are happy. They’re kind, sweet, and full of energy. We laugh, play, and goof off a lot of the day. We have dance parties, go shopping, and attend classes. I teach them little lessons throughout the day and we have playdates with other moms and kids.
Because I work from home, there are often times when they need to play by themselves or I’m glued to the computer while simultaneously playing “restaurant” or “airport”. Sometimes I feel guilty and that I’m not “present”, but that’s real life. If I worked outside the home, I would be gone 9-5. So I make it work as best as I can.
None of us are perfect mothers. Somedays we fail. And other days we thrive. Somedays we feel like we are raising perfect angels. And other days, we feel like Satan himself sent these hellions to us. But they’re kids, and they’re only kids for so long. Guess what? I drank Kool-Aid, ate sugary cereal, ran the neighborhood, talked back, and gave my parents a run for their money.
And I turned out just fine. With the popularity of social media and the internet these days, we often compare ourselves and second guess our ability as parents. We see Susie feeding her kids organic nuggets or Martha sending her kids to piano lessons at age 4. And there’s nothing wrong with that, because that’s their choice. That’s how they want to raise their kids, not how you have to raise yours.
So if your kid would rather play in dirt than with crayons, let him. If your daughter wants to wear Mickey Mouse shorts and Dora the Explorer shoes, who cares. Do you love your children? Are you trying your best? Are you making mistakes and learning as you go? Because most moms are. And it even changes from your first child to your second child. And I’m sure it changes after that too.
I promise you, you aren’t failing. On days that you feel like you are, text your best friend and tell her what happened. I will bet my life that she can match your story and probably beat it. Because we all make mistakes and we all are just doing the best we can. Children are people, and they sometimes will do things or say things that are out of your control. Other parents know that it’s not a reflection of you, but rather them being their own individual. Whether that be an angel or devil that day.
Stop thinking you’re screwing up because I promise you, you’re not. You’re doing a damn good job.