Dear Mom, You’re Not The Only One Who Doesn’t Know What She’s Doing
I remember vividly how the first months postpartum were. I struggled a lot with breastfeeding and had to make a choice on whether or not to formula feed. To be honest I hated myself for it. And every time I had to make a decision involving my daughter, I was not sure I was making the right one, and often doubted myself. I second-guessed my milk supply, baths, sleeping routines, and every tiny detail that involved this tiny little human I loved. Ever felt like other moms fit perfectly into their parenting role, while you, on the other hand, seem to be struggling with every small detail? You can’t seem to get feeding right, your baby won’t stop crying, she can’t sleep well, and you’re always making parenting mistakes now and then.
And when you look around you, other parents seem to have gotten the hang of it already. They aren’t struggling as much as you are, and this has you doubting your every move. You’d be surprised to learn how many parents doubt themselves and question every move they make regarding their kids. You’re not alone.
But who says parenting is about perfection? And even more importantly, do you think that the moms that seem to know everything actually do? No, they don’t. You’re not the only mom that struggles with bedtime, you’re not the only mom that’s not sure whether to discipline your toddler or not. Every parent struggles with making decisions, and sometimes, we just don’t know what we’re doing. A lot of good parents don’t trust their instincts. No matter how hard they try to be structured, positive, consistent and nurturing, they still notice imperfections in themselves and their kids. I’ve frequently questioned myself (and sometimes even berated myself) for my mistakes.
I’ve felt guilty because I’ve yelled or maybe punished my toddler because I’m convinced that some of the things I do aren’t okay. I’m even torn between believing that I’m doing my best and feeling like a bad parent, and sometimes an even worse person. Self-doubt sometimes gets the best of me, creeping in and making me feel like I’m an unworthy parent. That I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to my daughter.
I spoke to my therapist about it, and she told me that having self-doubt makes me a good parent. Still, she reminded me that one of the toughest challenges self-doubting parents face is the constant temptation to compare themselves to standards that do not exist. Such a parent will play with her kids, take them on a fun day out, do arts and crafts, carry them all over town for sports, and watch almost every game. Yet when they make mistakes, they can’t help but worry about the super-parents next door who would never make such a mistake. They doubt themselves, and even though it doesn’t feel good, these parents often make better parents. Are you a parent who does that a lot; check on what the next parent is up to, and immediately doubt themselves? I know I used to. I did it so much the first year, and I was concerned that it wasn’t healthy.
This is what brought me to my therapist, and hearing that it was okay to doubt my every move was such a huge relief. According to her, parents with self-doubt never believe they’re perfect, and their children will learn that being imperfect is okay. Because they will apologize for their mistakes, and so will their kids. And they’ll check their behavior, promise to do better, and start working on it immediately because they know that their kids are counting on it. And that’s the perspective I choose to see. I don’t have to be a perfect parent. Heck, I’m not even a perfect person.
It’s okay that I constantly doubt what I’m doing, and even wonder whether I know what I’m doing at all. What matters is making the best decisions for my daughter, and not letting self-doubt get the better of me. So, dear momma, you’re not the only one who’s not sure about her decisions, you’re not the only one torn between breastfeeding, formula feeding, combo-feeding, whether to sleep train your child, whether to hire a nanny or a babysitter or take them to daycare. Other moms feel the same way too. They’re not entirely sure about the decisions they make about their children, but they make a decision anyway. All that matters is acting in you and your child’s interest. And when they’re grown, you’ll be glad for the choices you made. You’re doing a great job, mama! Don’t let self-doubt tell you otherwise.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is personal essay and does not reflect the views of Babygaga
I missed my social life, my activities, other humans!
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