I had a conversation about this with a fellow mom this weekend, and our basic question and statement to ourselves was, “Aren’t you a good enough parent?” And my walk away was basically that no parent is perfect, so why are we holding ourselves to that performance measure?
This inquiry and blog post is not in ANY WAY suggesting that we should be lazy parents and throw up our hands when we are tired or the going gets tough and say, “you know, what the heck, I just can’t deal with this and my kid will be fine.” Of course it is our job, our mandate really, to take care in the parenting of our children. It is super easy to focus on that when they are newborns and babies, but as they start to get older, and the independence starts to kick in, and their verbal skills increase and the power of their negotiating begins to rival ours….well, let’s just say as hard as 2 am feedings and 3 am diaper changes and colic is….a 10 year old that wants to argue for her case or need is a hell of a lot harder. So, with each milestone and year, some things get easier and some more difficult. Our continuous commitment to improving our parenting skills and acknowledging the need to inquire and seek support in areas that we have no experience in, is crucial for the entire process of parenting a minor living in your home.
But I truly believe that most of the people that I am surrounded by in my circle of friends, parents at school or play ground, work, etc, I don’t really hear or see anyone taking their job lightly. In fact, I believe that majority of us may be taking it so seriously that we are constantly doubting our past actions. Isn’t your inside voice in your mind full of criticism?
Not sure that is a helpful self-dialogue, do you think it is?
In my quest to have a natural birth, to use attachment parenting techniques, to breastfeed instead of formula, to use no-cry sleep methods, to allow potty use instead of “train” her….well all of that has morphed now as she is school-aged into other dogma of supported learning, creative play, non violent discipline, non-media for young childhood, etc. And as she moves into the higher grades, the list will go on, in fact I’m sure of it.
But I see a trend, which is that in each developmental phase that we go through together, no matter how prepared I am or am not for the intricacies of it….well, I seem to become an expert in that phase AFTER it is done. You know what I mean? Like this blog for instance, at this time in my life and experience, I can share a lot of knowledge about natural birthing, breastfeeding, attachment parenting. When I was going through it, I was as overwhelmed as anyone else. And so it continues, and such is life.
I suggest that we all give each other a bit of a break. That means alter the internal dialogue about yourself and your mate’s parenting abilities and faults. AND IT ALSO MEANS, cut the other mom’s and dad’s out there some slack as well. Bite your tongue when you hear yourself starting to criticize a mom you see doing something that isn’t the RIE method or attachment at the park or when your sister-in-law breaks out a bottle of formula for her 3 months old at your family holiday party. The truth is, we don’t have ANY IDEA what their philosophy is on parenting, what their goals or stressors are…but I think we can all guess pretty accurately that they want to be the best parents possible, and that they are probably overwhelmed with the responsibility that comes with the 24/7 job just like us.
Together we are stronger and wiser. And in the end that is what this entire blog for Pregnancy Awareness is all about. Yes it starts with pregnancy, but we get into the habit of using supports and learning all along the way thru their launching off to college and marriage. This is the good news. We are not alone. And the other good news, is that pretty much all of us are doing the best we can in the moment. And each moment is just that, time marches on, and we can re-group, and take a breath, and be more present or more whatever in the next moment. Remember that and love yourself and your neighbor, and your neighbor’s kids.
Alisa B. Donner, MSW, LCSWCo-Founder of Pregnancy Awareness Month, and Mom to an Amazing Wonder
**REMINDER – Pregnancy Awareness Month’s blog post is for moms and expectant parents by moms (and of course some experts sprinkled in – and some mom’s are licensed board certified experts!). HOWEVER, we are not giving blanket ADVICE on what you should be doing, eating, how you should be exercising, parenting, etc. These are opinions, food for thought….think about it all, talk with your mate, and when it comes to diet, exercise, and health questions, ALWAYS discuss and seek advice from your medical health provider.
Alisa Donner, attachment parenting, no-cry method, Parenting, Post-Partum, Pregnancy Awareness Month, RIE, toilet training