Do you want to know a little secret? Being a parent is hard. I believe that the media gave me false hopes on what being a parent would be like (its always best to blame it on people you don’t actually know). I watched hours and hours of Gilmore Girls, imagining my perfect relationship with my perfect daughter. We would be best friends, borrow each other’s clothes, she would get perfect grades and get into an ivy league college. Life would be simply amazing.
Guess what? Parenting is nothing like that. My daughter is incredibly smart and she does get perfect grades (as perfect as 1st grade can get, I’m not sure that an A in not picking your nose will get you into an ivy league but its a start). However, I don’t see us ever sharing clothes. She is a stick and can not gain weight no matter how much deep fried butter I give her (no I don’t really do that, put the phone down and stop calling DHS). Most importantly we are not best friends.
Don’t get me wrong I love my child. She is smart, funny and shares similar interests as me. However, we are not friends. In fact right now she hates me. I was recently put in a situation where I had to choose between being her parent and being her friend. I chose to be her parent and she chose to be angry/sad about it. I know that this wont last and that she’ll get over it. Hopefully, as she grows up, we will become good friends. But for right now my job is to make sure that she is safe, loved and grows into a respectful and responsible adult. That wont happen if I spend all my time being her friend and not teaching her right from wrong.
This isn’t fun. It sucks. I want her to have nice things and get to do the things that she loves. I do not want her to spend all her time in trouble. But this is life and if I don’t teach her that actions have consequences who will? I wont have her learn these lessons later in life when the consequences are much more dire than not getting a birthday party. My hope is that she will learn them now, that Mike and I will save her the heartache of consequences that will permanently affect her life. I am not naive. I know that she will still make mistakes and have to learn things for herself. But if we can save her from even a little of the complete despair, that comes from making a mistake that alters the course of your life, we will.
The funny thing about all this is that I feel judged for our choice. It is possible that no one is judging me but that I feel so horrible about all this that I interpret every comment made by others as judgment. It is also possible that they actually are judging us. Being a parent is hard enough without judgement. As a mom I want what is best for my child. As a result a second guess every decision I make wondering if its a mistake.
So, I guess all this is to say that we are doing our best. You are doing your best. What we do is not the same as what you do or did. No, I am not a stay-at-home mom. I never will be again, it doesn’t suite my temperament. No, that does not mean I view my children as a “hobby”. Being their Mom is my first priority, I just have other priorities as well. Yes, I do believe that children are a blessing from God but I am perfectly happy with my two. Even if I was able to have more children I would chose not to. No, I do not home school. I myself was home schooled by my Grandma and know the incredible value that it can bring. My choice to not home school does not mean that I disagree with it or think that it is a bad choice. I simply do not feel that it is the right choice for my children. No, I do not have a parenting style (attachment, free-range, etc.) or follow a book for raising my children (aside from the Bible). Please do not interpret that as me disagreeing with your parenting style or book of choice. I simply find that what I do changes. I will be doing one thing and it works perfectly than my child moves to new “stage” and suddenly it no longer works. Mike and I constantly change our parenting style based on what our child needs. We don’t even use the same “system” for both of our children. They each have different needs and personalities. What works with one of them doesn’t work with the other.
What I find incredibly odd is that I know women who feel judged for having big families, staying home to raise them and homeschooling. They feel looked down on by working women. Ironic isn’t it?
So what if we all just stopped. I know its wishful thinking but wouldn’t it be amazing to let our family and friends raise their children in the way that seems right to them with no judgement from ourselves? Wouldn’t be wonderful to be surrounded by love and support. To have someone there to call when what you’re doing isn’t working without hearing a “told you so”.
I am personally challenging myself, lately, to offer less judgement and more love. I am trying give more support to other moms who are burdened with judgment and uncertainty. I am also reaching out to women who are not like myself, expanding my friendships to include mother’s who do things differently from me. I am tired of cliques. I am tired of feeling like an outsider and making others feel the same way too.
This is me, realizing that what I have been doing isn’t working anymore and changing it.