Every day, I open my computer, look at my Facebook feed, and see several articles letting me know about the “secret” failures that we inflict upon our children. Occasionally, something catches my eye that makes me think. I appreciate the challenge that provides me as a parent. Mostly, in the world of “open letters” and “did you realize” articles, what I read makes me feel like I failed in one more area I didn’t even realize existed. Can I get an amen?! I know I’m not alone!
Here is my rebuttal, my defensive cry, my “Could we stop with this already?” request. I reserve the right to vindicate my own skills as a parent because I’ve done some reflecting lately on all the things I’m doing right as a mom. My guess? You are doing a lot that is right as well. So sit back, mama. Plug your name in place of mine as you read through the paragraphs, and give yourself some credit!
The other day my mom told me, “You’re doing such a wonderful job with your daughter!” My first reaction? Letting her know that I play only a small part and that credit belongs to her wonderful teachers at school. These teachers that I have been conditioned to feel guilty about having let into my child’s life because I, of course, am making my “selfish choices” about being a working mother. Surely they have a lot to do with her behavior and manners as well, right? Before those words could come out of my mouth, I stopped. Because you know what? She’s right! I’m doing a great job of working with her on how to be kind and respectful of others. This conversation wasn’t about how much input her teachers have. This was a conversation about how I was doing as a parent.
I’ve been told, “Your daughter is so loving.” Did I think I deserved credit? No. Instead, I assumed it was simply her nature—or that it was that she sees gentle examples in those around her. It couldn’t be because of me. I dare to get aggravated with her from time to time. Sometimes, I lose my patience when she’d rather perform her dance routine in front of the mirror than brush her teeth. On occasion, I yell because I’ve reached the end of my line after a full day at work and a full evening of parenting. It couldn’t be me—the mother who “neglected” my child by allowing her to watch TV during dinner because I’m too tired to navigate conversation. But you know what? I do deserve credit! My daughter knows that I love her fiercely. I hug her, kiss her, compliment her, spend time with her, read to her, snuggle her, and most importantly—teach her lessons of love and acceptance.
Clearly, I’m my own worst critic. Every time someone tells me what a great job I am doing, I immediately bring to the surface all the doubts I have about myself as a mother. My thoughts turn to all the ways other people have come into my life and have—in one way or another—told me how I’m failing my child. Today, I am standing up for myself, for my friends, and for all of you reading this.
I intentionally expose my daughter to healthy foods—most days. On days that I don’t? Well, she’ll survive. We go to the movies, and hope she will remember these times as wonderful and exciting. On those nights, I feed her movie theater popcorn for dinner. And you know what? I don’t feel bad about it. We read at least two books together almost every night. On occasion, however, we read nothing—and she watches a few episodes of Sofia the First instead. She remains brilliant and creative. Truthfully, I despise playing, and I don’t hang for long even when I do agree to give it a shot. For her, however I go to the park, library, pool, or on nature walks. I teach her kindness even though some days my exhaustion leads way to my replies to her 400 questions sounding less than kind. She hears me tell her that I love her—every day.
I’ve kissed her cheeks a million times. Yet, I also respect her right to not be touched when she says no more kisses. Daily, I remind her that beauty doesn’t make her special, but I let her play with princess dresses and dress up shoes—because she wants to. Most importantly, I LOVE her. That love manifests in different ways—through setting boundaries and giving hugs alike. She’s an amazing kid, and yeah, some of it is in her genes—but a whole lot of it is because of me (and her dad, of course).
So, moms, you’re doing a good job. Ignore, hide, delete, even stick out your tongue out at those articles that tell you otherwise. We can all learn from the people around us, but we were never intended to experience so much doubt in our own parenting abilities. Take your confidence back, and remember—you’re doing a pretty darn good job.