Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Just my opinion...

I am going to start this post by apologizing if I offend anyone who reads this. Aha, that got your attention, now didn't it? To anyone who knows me past more than an passing acquaintance the fact that I might write something controversial will be pretty shocking. I am a very firm believer in the notion of live and let live. I believe everyone is entitled to have their own opinions, thought and beliefs, and I don't mind in the slightest if they are different then mine. I don't like debate or politics for this reason, I don't like to argue. Especially not for when it is just arguing for arguing's sake. But I have had something on my mind so strongly for awhile now and I can't think of another forum for sharing it with the people I that I want to hear me. So here goes.

I read a lot of blogs. I am a stay at home mother of three, an avid blogger and reader, and I am fascinated by being allowed to see into another person's daily life and thoughts. I think that it is such an interesting form of communication, sometimes as much as by what is not documented as by what is. I also think that it is important to respect the privilege of being allowed to share in another person's life, whether they are a stranger or a close relative. But lately I have noticed a trend, especially in young mothers, that makes me feel so frustrated and sad. So I am writing this for my little sister, who isn't a mother yet, and for all of my relatives, friends, relatives of friends or friends of relatives who might read this, and who are young mothers or who will be one day. 

What I'm reading that is disturbing is guilt. Mother's Guilt. These women (some of whom I know and some who've I never met and most likely never will) are just agonizing over every single decision they make as mothers. I think that some guilt is probably pretty normal. We all have mothering days that we wish we could get a do-over on. I know there are some nights I lay in bed thinking over my parenting choices of that day and wincing a little bit. But this is more than that. It's a almost like a contest to see who can worry the most or feel the most horrible because their child watched more than fifteen minutes of television that day, or ate processed sugar. Even though I know better, I find myself getting sucked in and starting to get anxious that I am failing as a parent because my two year old is chowing down on a breakfast of Captain Crunch while watching a third episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse while I am reading blogs of people who are much better than I in the nutrition and the not melting your child's brain to mush with too much television categories, and yet are beating themselves up over not being better. 

Then I step away from the computer and remember that I am one woman doing the best that I can for the three little people I love more than anything in the world. I remember that being a mother isn't a contest. My parenting performance isn't going to be measured against anything but by the adults that these children will become as they go out into the world. And spending my emotional energy fretting about how I stack up against other mothers is not only harmful to me, but short-changing my children in the long run.

When I look back on my vast experience of eight years of motherhood (yes, that is meant tongue in cheek) the things that I feel the most guilty about all occurred when I lost my temper or gave in to impatience with my children. Like the time I got frustrated with my then three year old son for stepping in the snow when he didn't have his snow boots on. I decided to show him how cold it would be to "play" in the snow with out the proper clothing. So I picked him up and threw him into the middle of the lawn, fully expecting him to pop up from the foot or so of dust like snow yelling in surprise. I hadn't taken into account that it had frozen solid, and my poor little boy bounced hard two or three times on the ice. Like skipping a stone across a pond. We both cried the rest of the way home. See. That's something worth feeling guilty about...

If you find yourself getting sucked into the "I'm a horrible mother" game, step away. Or if you need to vent about the things that you are worried that you are doing wrong as a parent, maybe try to balance it by writing one thing you did right as a parent for every one thing that you didn't. Being a mother is the most difficult job any of us will ever have. Let's try to make it easier for ourselves and each other by focusing more on what we are doing right and not sweating the small stuff so much. Let's set examples for our children by saying sorry when we make mistakes, and then moving on. Let's set examples for each other by doing the same thing, and maybe taking the time to compliment a friend, a relative or a complete stranger on good parenting. Since we're all just making it up as we go along, it's nice to have a good moment recognized. 

If I've offended you I apologize, although you could have stopped reading at any point... just saying. If I've made you think, I'm glad. And if even one of you is thinking about what a great mother you are and how lucky your children are to have you, then my work here is done. 

5 comments:

Sandra & Brent said...

Well said. We were never intended to be Gods to our children. Just to love them and teach them to turn to God . . . He actually DOES know everything! My fervent wish for all my children has always been that they'll just forgive me and move on. They can pay for their own therapy just like I had to pay for mine!

April Weeks said...

Amen to what Sandra said.

Lawson Family said...

I think Satan knows exactly how to get to all of us and comparing and feeling like we don't measure up can hault progression and growth.

Tricky. Tricky.

I think it's always good to hear reminders to stay focused on what matters and what you can control and contribute. Thanks for the reminder!

Janessa Welch said...

Thank you for posting this Chrissy. I really needed to hear that for sure. I try to do the best I can with being a mom, but often I'm left clueless with what to do with Ellie because I never really had any experiance with kids until now. I have to remind myself every day that theres not a "Being a Mom for Dummies" book, and its a learning experiance. So it was definitely good to hear that.

Simple Stitches Sewing School said...

Chrissy...this is why I love you! I love that you will say exactly what you think. Being a parent is one of the hardest things. I look up to you more than you know. You are a wonderful example of a mother! Thanks for the reminder :)