I’m jumping on the media frenzy this week. ..Time Magazine’s latest cover has conjured up a hailstorm of commentary from the media, parenting experts, moms, and pretty much everybody else. The image of a young mother and her preschool-aged son breast-feeding has mommy bloggers picking sides for and against attachment parenting. Fuel has been added to a fire that has already been burning for years. This week, so it seems, the “Mommy Wars” rage on.
As Mother’s Day arrives this year I can’t help but be sick of this battle. It wasn’t until I became a parent to four, very different children, that I felt my judgment against other mothers slipping away. My white flag of surrender is flying high today and I am happy to be out of the fight. Sure I hear crazy stories of women leaving their kids in tanning booths and wonder “What the heck?” But overall I really try to keep my eyes on my very full plate.
I used to judge moms that had their kids on a leash and then I became the mom that had to put my kid on a leash. I wondered why a friend was talking so much about being so angry with her son and then I experienced mommy rage and felt angry all the time. I stared at moms dealing with tantrums then found myself dealing with my two-year old throwing herself down on the floor in the middle of the grocery store, then having to high-tail it out of there without the groceries. I have heard kids screaming on an airplane and wished I was in another seat only to then have my kids screaming on an airplane (still wishing for another seat).
I use my iPhone too much and I am guilty of pacifying my kids with it when I need them to give me a few more minutes to shop or eat. I have had my kids in front of the television, knowing that they shouldn’t watch too much as toddlers, just to get more time to do the dishes or get dinner on the table. I have given them too much sugar and bribed them with it too. I have been guilty of not saying “no” and buying yet another stupid princess item that I swore I wasn’t going to buy.
I have stacks of parenting books, I have attended workshops, hired a coach, gone to classes, gone to therapy, and watched Super Nanny. I have endured comments from other parents suggesting that I try positive discipline classes when I literally just came from one. Others have imposed their techniques on me when I have never asked for their feedback, “Have you tried…?” “You should…” I have made charts, used rewards, and on very bad days I have run straight up to my bedside table to scour those parenting books, furiously skipping straight to the end looking for the magic answer on “how to…” . I have wanted so badly to discover the magic 1-2-3-right-way-to-parent.
What I have learned in my five plus years of being a mother, which I know is nothing in the grand scheme of things, is that I have no idea what I am doing nor do I think I’ve cornered the market on the right way to mother. Just when I think I’ve got something down my kids change things up by developing a new behavior or by just growing into a new age.
I am seriously starting to wonder how anyone who doesn’t wear my shoes can claim to know what the best way to parent my children is? Aren’t we all just doing the best we can? Can’t we just give each other a freakin’ break?
I can’t remember ever seeing my own mother yell. I don’t remember her ever getting angry with us kids. She cooked amazing food, sewed amazing costumes for us for Halloween, knitted sweaters, made beautiful crafts, and always was there for us no matter what. She wasn’t a perfect mother but she was perfect for me. Now that I’m a mother I realize she did a darn good job and I admire her more and more each day for her hard work, love, and unconditional support.
I see so many women in my community of mothers doing amazing work. They are beautiful, strong, patient, kind, persistent, lovely, creative, energetic, caring, compassionate, thorough, firm, and humorous. And yet all of them seem to have, at some point or another, doubted their ability to mother well or questioned whether or not something they were doing with their child was the “right way”.
I would argue these women are doing more amazing than they realize or are given credit for. They mother regardless of the new food allergies their kids have, the three-year-old little girl who will only wear black and yell like a pirate, the brotherly punch in the face, the diaper blow-outs, the holes in the new clothes that Nana just bought, the husband who works overnights or always working, and the litany of things to navigate as a mother. Even in their doubt they are doing it right.
I am not going to tell anyone what to do, dare I come off as someone who thinks they have the answer, but on this Mother’s Day I am going to trust that the mothers in my life, including myself, are doing just fine. Whether they still breastfeed their three-year-old or have all of their kids in their marital bed, I really don’t care.
I am going to truly enjoy being a mom today. I will compare myself only to myself. I am enjoying my life and I feel grateful for it because not everyone who wants to gets to be a mother. My joy may not run from sun up to sun down every day without interruption, but I am learning so much in this school of mommyhood. Which I guess is a good thing since I will never get to graduate.