Before I became a parent, I had some big ideas about how I was going to raise my kids.
I was going to be a cool mom.
I was going to be the mom who let her kids find their own way and make their own path.
I was going to be patient and gentle.
I wasn’t going to yell.
I was going to be creative and come up with cool art projects we could do together to nurture creativity in my kids.
I was going to take my kids on daily hikes into the woods and teach them to respect, love, and take care of the earth.
I wasn’t going to let my kids watch hours of tv at a time.
I was going to give my kids freedom to explore their world.
I was going to feed my kids green smoothies and never let them eat processed food.
I would never let them cry.
I wasn’t going to punish them or bribe them with treats.
I was going to respect my kids and lead by example.
I was going to spend hours every day with them and enjoy every second of it.
I was going to calmly talk through conflicts with my kids and never react with enough anger to actually scare them.
I was going to read my kids to sleep every single night.
I was going to go on cool adventures with my kids all the time, exploring our community through their eyes.
I wouldn’t ever compare myself to other mamas or compare my kids to other kids.
I was going to teach my children to be who they want to be. I would encourage them to aspire to their biggest visions and dreams for themselves.
I would always put my kids needs first.
This is what happened instead:
I try really hard every day to do my best as a mom.
I let my 3 year old watch more tv than I am comfortable with.
I frequently say to my daughter, “sorry kiddo, mommy can’t play right now. Mommy has to work right now.”
Some days the only time I spend outdoors is the walk between my front door and my car.
I lose my patience too quickly sometimes and yell a little more than I would like.
I give my daughter time outs (although to be honest, I usually give myself a time out then, too. The time out is so that mommy can breathe and not lose her cool entirely).
My child refuses to eat green smoothies and thinks bread is the best food group.
I try to make time every day to play with my 3 year old daughter, but often feel guilty that it’s not enough.
I still aspire to be the mom I thought I wanted to be before I had kids.
I want to be more patient and yell less, something I work really hard at every single day.
I want to be the mom who can drop everything and take the kids out for a long hike in the woods.
I want to read to my kids every single night before they fall asleep.
I want to have time each day to paint and create with my kids.
I want to go on adventures with my kids.
I want my kids to be independent, but I also want them to know I will always be there for them when they need me.
I want to teach them to be passionate and peaceful.
I want to lead by example how to be a good human being.
What I want to stop doing is comparing my kids to other kids or my parenting to the way others parent. There’s so much out there these days about how we should or shouldn’t parent.
“Don’t let your kids sleep in your bed with you”
“Let them cry it out.”
“Don’t let them cry it out”
“Don’t praise your children or give them rewards for good behavior.”
“Give your kids a chance to explore and learn on their own”
“Don’t let your kids have too much screen time.”
Just recently in the news, 2 different celebrity parents were attacked online for ordinary acts of parenthood. One was attacked for having kids who looked too skinny – she was accused of not feeding her kids enough. Another was attacked for kissing her child on the lips.
No matter what we do as parents, someone is going to find an issue with it.
We need to stop telling parents how to parent. We need to stop giving names to styles of parenting that we think are better or worse. We need to stop condemning other parents who do not follow the same guidelines we do as parents. We need to start supporting one another as parents in the endeavor to raise our kids to be amazing human beings who will change the world.
I resolve to do the best I can every day as a mom.
Some days will be better than others; some days will be painfully hard.
There are nights that I will go to sleep with a smile thinking about my wonderful children; there will be afternoons I spend crying on my kitchen floor.
What is the one parenting idea I am giving up? I am letting go of the idea that there is a best way to parent. There isn’t.
What I will continue to do is simply try to be the best parent I can be. I will make mistakes. I will struggle. I will even want to run away sometimes. That comes with the territory.
I will keep trying to be the best parent I can be. I will listen to my heart and listen to my kids and work together with their father. I will have honest and open conversations with my friends about the challenges of parenting and listen without judgement to the strategies they employ as parents. I will observe other parents with admiration and respect. If I disagree with their methods, I will keep it to myself. I will be open to new approaches, but I will also forgive myself if I struggle. I will forgive my kids if they struggle.
I believe this is one of the most valuable lessons in life, not just parenting. If we remember that we are all after the same thing (raising our kids to be really good humans), isn’t it better to stand together and support one another as parents than to tear those down who are not like us?