Parenting Doesn’t Get Easier. But We Can Go Easy on Other Parents

That screaming boy in Target.

That mismatched messy girl in the restaurant.

That eye roll.

I have silently judged, questioned and mentally accused the mothers of these children.

Because I was an excellent mother-

Before I had kids.

And then I became a mom and I discovered just how wrong I’d been.

Hand holding cardboard

 

Because if the world judged how great a mom I was by my well-behaved kids who are styled to perfection without ever displaying attitude or laziness–I would be in deep trouble.

Parenting is hard.

The kind of hard that knocks you off your feet, leaves you gasping for air, and has you wondering what the heck just happened all before 8 a.m.

I used to think if I could just get them to sleep through the night or eat their veggies or stop crying, or pick up their toys, or stop fighting with their siblings, or make a new friend, or get a better grade or stop slamming their doors, or fill in the blank–then parenting would be easier.

But then I realized parenting doesn’t get easier.

It just changes.

I understand now that the little boy is probably screaming in Target because his mom told him no. She is being consistent even though it’s hard. She’s second-guessing herself and she really just wants to cry along with him.

I get the mismatched messy girl at the restaurant because that mom chose her battle. She let the little things go and is just simply doing her best.

I can now appreciate letting teenagers get away with the eye roll. Because you can’t win them all.

Once I heard a exuberant, quirky guest speaker say, “You might think I’m wrong because I do things different than you do. You might wonder why I get excited more than most or pump my fist or jump up and down. You might judge me. Go ahead. Because you don’t know the road I’ve walked. You can’t understand that this fist bump means I haven’t quit. This jump means I will not give up. I may not do things the way you do them, but I do it my way for a reason. And that doesn’t make me wrong.”

The thing is we may never understand why other parents do what they do. And then again, we may totally get it when we reach that next trying and beautiful phase.

But the truth is we all know how hard parenting is. We all try to do our best, hoping we offer our kids mercy or justice when it’s needed most. We all love our children. The last thing we need is to second guess the way someone else is parenting.

An encouraging word, a kind look, a sympathetic smile can change someone’s day. Including your own.

And if your a parent, you’re going to need it.

 


Comments

  1. 1

    says

    The sentiment is so great, but as I watch that video, it still feels like a good/less-than-good duality. (I didn’t rewatch it, but those two sides may have literally all gone to the same sides of the stage.) If I were a better mom, according to today’s trends/standards, I would cloth diaper, make my own food, breastfeed, babywear, stay home, have natural births, homeschool, etc. I know a mom who has that whole list checked off. I’ve only done two of those. We can say “different strokes for different folks,” but I feel like we all know which is considered “better” these days. I’m sure this comment reveals more about my own insecurities than reality, but there is some truth to the trendiness of natural, earth-mama things these days, at least.

    • 1.1

      Deb says

      Actually, the sides are mixed, Jessica. breastfeed, disposable, no co sleep, stay at home, christian school, cry it out, babywear, bought all baby food and c-section were one side and the other was formula, cloth diapers, co-slept, work, public school, didn’t let them cry, didn’t baby wear, made baby food and natural planned births = the other side. The perception from Mom to Mom is often critical. The good news is that our kids love us and think we are the best moms no matter which things we choose. Oh sure, there are a few years where they don’t like us so much but that too is the same no matter what side you leaned to. They end up loving us all over again as they get older and wiser. Just keep GOD in it and you can’t “get it wrong” !!

    • 1.2

      April G. says

      I stay at home with my baby. Most of the time he co-sleeps, but sometimes he will sleep 6 hours in his own bed. I use cloth diapers, but not as often as I originally intended.

      My mom didn’t get to stay home with all of us. My dad got sick, then was laid off. She went back to work. I believe it is better for the mom to stay home if she can, but why give her more grief and guilt if she can’t? As an adult, you have to make the best choices possible for your family. Whether that family is just you as a single, you and a spouse; you, the spouse and kids; just you and the kids or any other mix, family is family.

  2. 2

    says

    “Because I was an excellent mother-
    Before I had kids.”

    That’s one of the best quotes I’ve ever read. Great post and a good reminder!

  3. 3

    Julie says

    My twins were born by c-section, they are formula fed, we buy our baby food, they won’t have fast food, we use Pampers, make our own laundry detergent, shop at consignment shops, we vaccinate our children, I couldn’t baby-wear because of back issues, both of us work, they’re in daycare – and you know what? my boys are happy, healthy, little cutie pies and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
    Moms need to stop judging other moms – everyone does what works for them and everything I mentioned (and even forgot to mention), works for us.
    PS…I’m still a rookie at this – my guys are going to be 1 next week.

  4. 4

    Jenny Donahue says

    I’ve been through it all. I was a nanny at 20 and then a mother at 30. I have 3 monkeys. Two are in grade school (10 and 7) and the surprise twinkle in my husband’s eye (our 1 yr old). I have seen working moms struggle with a mother load of tasks that were never completed and a chaos that I knew I could never survive in. So I stayed home. We SAHM need thick skins because we have that big blank space when asked what do you do all day? Working moms have it different not better not worse. Their start their day juggling 3 balls in the air and by the end of the day they’re juggling 7 or 8. At home I’m trying to teach rules and structure without the peer pressure they have at daycare. At home I am trying to get through every day without saying shut up out loud, keeping screen time to a minimum, and making it to bedtime. Yes it is 9:49 am and I am already thinking about bedtime.
    The reality is that I stopped reading parenting books ages ago because I can barely get through writing this little comment. If you are writing a book about raising kids than you have time to write which means you are already in a place that I cannot relate to. There is no right or wrong, mostly it’s what works for you. Case in point I breast fed the hell out of my son (who was never in daycare) and he had 3 ear infections his first year. Go figure!
    Taking parenting advise is like taking dieting advice. You”re never going to really see the results you want just by following someone else’s plan.
    My advise is to be kind to each other as mothers and women. Show some humility. Like how I apologized to the bus manager , in an email, for my out burst on the first day of school. Have confidence in yourself as a mother. No one controls what you do for your children and that includes your pediatrician. After 20 years of taking children to the dr.’s office I can firmly tell you that they change their game plan yearly. Follow it with a grain of salt instead of word for word. I have no problem telling our Dr. that our baby absolutely sleeps through the night even though my dark circles say otherwise. I will not let that baby cry herself to sleep. That’s how I roll. I know that at some point I will be dragging her out of bed to get ready for school.
    Good Luck and God Speed!

  5. 6

    says

    I watched the video included in this post the other day. We’ll never end the Mommy Wars but I loved it anyways. With almost every piece of cardboard, I could relate to both moms.

    I’ve fed from a bottle, a boob, and a tube.
    I’ve co-slept with 2 babies and not with 1.
    Babywearing? Yep. Pushing in a stroller? Yep.
    Homeschool? Yes. Public School? Definitely possible down the road.
    Cloth diapers at home. Disposable on the go.
    I made all of Bella’s babyfood. I’ve bought all of Brynlee’s since she eats so little by mouth. We believe in Happy Meals.
    I’ve been a stay at home mom, a work at home mom, and now a full-time caregiver/ no-degree-nurse/ mom rolled into 1 who finds time to work at home next to never.
    I had an induction with the works, a quick and easy natural birth, and then basically another natural birth only because after 9 hours of active labor the epidural would. not. work. when I finally tried it in a attempt to get Brynlee OUT. Worst pain of my life.
    I have a child who is here thanks to skilled surgeons and modern day medicine (tracheostomy, g-tube, tubes in ear, upcoming cleft repair) but we also opt for natural remedies when possible.

    I’ve been all over the spectrum with my three kids and the oldest is only 5. We think we know it all until we have kids..

  6. 8

    says

    Love it. Different methods…but the love is great on all accounts. In 30 years who knows what trends will be in with parenting, but I think Moms will always agree….we are doing the best we can. Sometimes we are wrong, sometimes we are right.

    Let’s major on the majors and not get caught up in the minors…amen!?

    You’re all awesome.

  7. 9

    Laura says

    The advice I give all expectant mothers – never say never……
    As in – “I would never let my kids do/eat/etc _______ (fill in the blank). Because you just never know.

  8. 10

    says

    I’m new to the blog world, because I just kind of got my head above water after having four kids in less than three years, and this blog is one of the first I started reading. Thanks for your perspective. It helps to be reminded we’re all doing our best, and there’s really no manual for this child-rearing experience. Our best is enough! Thank you for sharing yourself with those of us trying to get it right!!

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