August 2, 2016 | 2 comments | Humor, Kid Time, Me Time, Parenting Advice

Letting Go of Great Parenting Expectations

Parents, and mothers especially, are under an enormous about of pressure these days to be perfect. We feel the pressures from social media. Even if we are not technically being judged upon, it’s difficult not to internalize what we see from others.

We see other mothers seemingly being perfect, raising well-behaved smiling children that have been socialized appropriately since birth. We see children reading in preschool because their mothers started reading to them in the womb. Personally, I see other mothers baking organic, gluten-free, nut-free delicious muffins daily and feel inadequate over my processed mac-n-cheese lunches.

I envy mothers that can organize a play date with homemade crafts and lunches with a sparkling home that make any Pinterest Board jealous. Mothers that can cook a creative dinner without relying on screen time because their children love to cook with them. I know mothers that can work from home because their darlings play together so well together that “you hardly know they’re in the house.” I see mothers that have time to stay fit and sexy and imaginably adventuresome in their sex lives.

There are posts of mothers teaching their children to be active, participating in sports, races and bike rides. I see children playing hockey at age four, riding a bikes before that, performing multiple talents, singing, and dancing. I’m envious of mothers who easily assume the matriarchal role, seamlessly connecting multiple generations of family together.

My feelings of inadequacies did not just begin because my children are out of preschool finally. I felt insecure as soon as my first was born. When my children were younger, I worried about developmental milestones. About when they started to make eye-contact, crawl, walk, talk, write their name, and learn the alphabet. I compared and contrasted. I analyzed. I worried. I thought we were behind.

I had goals for my children this summer. I had things that I wanted to accomplish with them even though they are still so young. But then I went to the beach for a week and actually found a moment or two of relaxation. Once those moments passed, I wrote this meme.

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It’s supposed to be funny, honest, and humbling. Because I’m letting go of that Facebook ideal. That perfection that we keep telling ourselves that exists.

I’m telling myself that it’s OK if you don’t finish all these lofty goals as a parent in a short amount of time. There are mini-milestones to be proud of.

This meme isn’t a sign of failure, but a sign of success. Parenting and growing up is a process. My kids will develop in their own way, at their speed, with me guiding them.

Although not reading at the level I truly want, my kids at least know the joy of going to the library and finding books they love. Elephant and Piggy series by Mo Willems and Tedd Arnold’s Fly Guy series are our current favorites. Besides learning how to respect the waves of the ocean and how to pee in it, we learned that the best cure for sand-burnt feet is soft serve ice cream and that seashells shaped like the back of a dragon are my daughter’s favorite. We learned to jump waves and snorted salt water if we got blue crushed.

So, I’m adjusting my great expectations. If you are conscientious enough to worry “Am I doing enough for my kids?” or “Am I being the best mother that I can be?”, then you are. You are resoundingly doing a good job.

Enjoy the rest of your summer.

This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

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2 Comments

  1. KJ Cartmell

    August 11, 2016 10:34 pm

    When my kids were little, my wife and I failed to enroll them in soccer. This was a minor heresy where we live. We asked our daughters, “Do you want to play soccer?” and they said no, so, we didn’t sign them up. They still ran and swam and rode bikes. They were still healthy. We just skipped the organized sport thing.

    When I told this to other parents, they looked at me in shock. “Your kids don’t play soccer?” Then, they invariably said, “That would be so nice!” We had normal, content children, and we got Saturday mornings off. A good deal all around.

    The results of good parenting is the children: not the list of activities or the craft projects or the prized, hard-won Christmas presents, but how the child lives her life. Is she content, for the most part? Does she have friends? Does she do reasonably well in school? If you’ve taught your children to hunt out favorite books at the library and to have fun at the beach, you’re doing a good job.

  2. shoppingtime

    August 15, 2016 9:55 pm

    KJ, Thank you for your thoughts. So funny that you bring up the soccer. I wrote another article about how we are starting organized sports to early (and often). Please have a look at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/are-we-starting-organized-sports-too-early_us_57a34635e4b0c863d400443c . I think we all put too much pressure on ourselves. Glad your kids are happy and normal and you had your Saturday mornings soccer-free.

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