I feel as though no one tells you what parenthood really has in store for you. Like, not the funny little things … like how even babies get erections and it’s totally normal or how potty training is MESSY. Or the multitude of stages kids actually go through. Or about how tired you’ll be. Or the craziness that parenthood just is in general. But I think that the thing that you really go into parenthood not expecting – and wind up getting slapped in the face by – is the feeling of not doing enough, being enough, feeling like you’re just plain not good enough. And I’m not going to sugar coat it for you – if a parent says that they’ve never felt any of those things than they are lying. You will feel this way about something.
Whether you delivered by c-section or vaginal, with drugs or natural, adopted or foster, breastfed or formula fed, co-sleep, spank, work or stay home…. you will have feelings of inadequacy in some way when it comes to parenting. And you know what? You shouldn’t. These children were entrusted to you, to raise with your abilities and your strengths and weaknesses. There was no mistake.
And there is no expectation of perfection except those that we put on ourselves because of what we think that parenting should be based on what we see in the media.
Going into motherhood I never expected to be faced with so many issues and obstacles. Currently I am dealing with my pre-tween who absolutely hates it at my house, thinks I’m a terrible mother and would prefer to not even visit me. Yet, here I stand. His mother, trying not to give up on him. Taking him to his appointments and his practices and trying so hard to have him know I love him. And he is smart, empathetic, polite and talented. But I feel like I am failing him.
Take my 3 year old. He is destructive – he used a 60 inch television that we had for 3 days as a slide. He is rambunctious and challenging. He is also sweet, loving and genuinely happy. Two days a week he goes to speech and occupational therapy for areas I haven’t been able to help him. I feel like I am failing him.
I wasn’t prepared for therapists and psychiatrist’s, speech and OT. I wasn’t ready for the simple things either though. I wasn’t ready for potty training or temper tantrums or straight up MELTDOWNS. I wasn’t ready for a c-section, VBAC, breastfeeding, postpartum depression and anxiety or the fact that you will WANT to wear depends after having a baby. No one prepares you for these things. And it feels like no one understands what you’re experiencing or where you are. But they do. You are not alone.
The pressure we put on ourselves and the impossible standards we try to live up to are leading us into lives full of worry, fear, anger and shame.
We need to all let go of this need to be “good enough” because we already are.
We need to embrace the wonder and amazement that is parenting even through the darkest days of it because our children continue to grow up and we should be enjoying these times while we can. We also need to be making ourselves a priority. It is impossible to fill others cups when our own cup is empty. My amazing friend explained Rachel Hollis’ theory to me. As moms we are constantly tipping our glasses over to splash water on others… giving our little bit of energy to our kids, our husbands, our jobs, our homes. But a glass that is constantly ripping over becomes weak and eventually breaks. Instead of tipping what little water is in our glass onto others, fill the glass to the top and let the excess spill out onto everyone else. By filling your cup first – through self care and self love – the energy we gain will naturally just spill onto all those around us. Leaving us intact, rather than broken and leaving us, and everyone around us, happier.
Take a bible study. Join a gym. Get up an hour early and spend some quiet time with yourself. Or with God. Enjoy your cup of coffee.
I know this is easier said than done but I’ve found I deal with the trials, tribulations and heartache of parenthood a lot better when my glass is a little fuller.
Where are you struggling with parenting? Let’s see if we can work through it together.