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After this, I started paying attention to two things:
1. How often was I apologizing to others about my children’s behaviors?
2. How often were others apologizing to me for the behavior of their
I was seven when Baby Jessica McClure fell down that well in Texas. Along with my family, I watched the rescue attempts, the news updates, and saw the countless newspaper stories regarding the situation. The nation rallied around her family, providing support, prayers, and a lack of judgment. I don’t remember at any point hearing someone ask why her parents were not watching her. No one publicly ridiculed the McClures on their parenting choices. No. The country just waited, with bated breath, until that little girl was safe.
After we bring our babies home, we are responsible for their care. The baby cries and we have to figure out what WE must do to fix the situation. Baby’s behavior is quite frequently contingent on how well we do in our job of caring for them (colic, medical issues, etc aside). As Baby grows into Toddler, their moods start to fluctuate on other internal and external sources outside of the basic human needs. Tantrums happen. Behavioral issues bloom. I don’t know of any moms that have struggled with their children’s behavior and not questioned, “What did I do wrong?” At some point, we have to let go and let God… to understand that our children’s choices and behaviors aren’t always a reflection on us. Momma Guilt is real and it’s a beast.
The Art of Competitive Parenting
Conversations then seem to turn to how many activities fill up their family schedule. A busier schedule is seen as a higher success at parenting. But that’s not true. You know your children. You know if they thrive best immersed in activities, with minimal structure, or with lots of family time. I’m telling you this: The amount of activities you have your child enrolled in has no correlation to your parenting skills.
The Fallout from Mommy Wars
Breast vs. Bottle. Vaccinations. Circumcision. Right there are 3 hot topics guaranteed to start a Mommy War. There are so many hot topics that pit mothers against each other. And it seems that some use these controversial issues to make themselves appear/feel better than other moms. Case in point… I actually had a Facebook friend private message me links to articles on the dangers of vaccines after I had posted pictures of Sunny playing joyfully after getting her shots. We use an alternative vaccine schedule (only one live vax at a time, spread the others out so it isn’t 4 at once). Yet, she still felt the need to literally tell me that she couldn’t believe that I was “subjecting” my child to such things. When did we feel this was okay? What has been fed to us that we feel we must challenge other’s mothering styles? No wonder we constantly apologize… We constantly feel as though we are being judged.
Can you scroll through twenty posts on Facebook without seeing someone sharing how (insert complimentary word here) their child is? It can be virtually impossible for some. And while I’m not trashing it, (because I do it, too), it can be disheartening. Social media has allowed us to stay in touch with friends and family who live far away, share pictures of our meals with a few clicks, and catch the latest breaking news. But at what cost? Most moms don’t post pictures of their toddler having a meltdown because they got a red cup instead of a yellow one. We don’t post on how frustrating it is that our teenager is being defiant and disrespectful. And we certainly don’t proudly post pictures of our beds that are rarely made or the dishes piled up in the sink. So much of our online lives are filtered. We share only what we want to, offering others a censored view of just how we live day to day. This results in an almost shameful feeling when we interact with people face to face. Our apologies could very well be based on the fact that we cannot filter out the realness of our lives.
There is one person that you should be saying “I’m sorry” to, and that’s yourself.
Apologize to yourself for wishing you could be the momma that you aren’t.
Apologize to yourself for being so hard on the momma that you are.
Apologize to yourself for letting the world make you think that you are less than amazing.