I never truly doubted myself or my abilities as a person until I became a parent. Motherhood filled with me doubts, anxiety and worry. Every single decision seemed to be monumental and life impacting, and I became a mom before mommy blogs really exploded! I just know that if I was a first-time mom today . . . it would not be pretty! So many ways and places where moms can feel like they are falling short, not doing the right thing, wearing the right clothes, looking the right way or parenting the right way. Lean in and let me tell you a secret:
There is no right way.
Really there isn't, and there never has been.
You have heard "Every child is different," and you've probably nodded along, but it's more than that. Every mom is different, every situation is different, every moment is different. Even the same situation can be different the second time you experience it, if for no reason other than that it's the second time you experienced it.
A mom friend called to ask my advice/opinion on something. She was stressing and fretting over a decision and lamenting what she had and hadn't done in the past and wondering what she will do in the future. I told her my mantra: "You are being the best mom you can be today, at this moment, in these circumstances."
You (we) are making the best decision for this given moment. It may not be someone else's best decision, heck it may not be the same best decision we make in a different moment, but it's the best for THIS moment.
Today a mom at a playdate said:
"Don't tell me 5 ways to be a better mom. You don't know that I'm not an awesome mom. Besides do you ever see them saying 5 ways to be a better dad? It's always look at this awesome moment between a dad and a kid. I don't need more ways to be told I'm not doing something right."
I think in general, the Internet and all of this information available to us has made parenting much more exhausting. Much more of something objective that can be checked and graded like a test, and it's not.
It's a lifelong subjective process that is constantly changing. As soon as you figure one thing out, there is something new to tackle.
So just be happy in this moment. Be confident in whatever decision you make today, even if you make a different one tomorrow. Not that you need to justify it to anyone, but if you need to justify it to yourself remember this: Tomorrow is different and this is the best decision right now, so own it.
A friend posted on Facebook yesterday:
I think women need to start celebrating small victories the way that men do. I got an email, a text and a phone call today from Gabe, announcing he had successfully signed the rest of the family up for swimming at the park district. He was all BAM! I DID THAT SHIT! BOOYAH! REGISTRATION COMPLETE! WOOT WOOT!
I think that is a perfect way to get out of the funk, worry and anxiety about everything we do as parents. Instead of fretting about, celebrate it.
"You bet I'm making macaroni and cheese for dinner, and it's not organic or homemade. It's from a blue box and it tastes awesome!"
Try it. You'll see it feels a lot better than wondering if your kids will grow a third eye simply because you never made your own baby food (they won't -- promise).
Melissa is mom to 4 kids and 2 angels. She chronicles the sticky bits of motherhood at Peanut Butter in my Hair.
See more of Melissa's stories here.