Some how we invite a lot of opinions from others when we take our kids in public, or when we are in the process of adopting, or when we have a bulging preggy belly. All of a sudden everyone else becomes expert parents... of OUR children.
In the past month I've had the following statements said to me:
"Try having her clap, that will calm her down"
"Just spank her already! What you are doing now clearly isn't working."
"You need to just ignore the misbehavior and it will go away."
"You shouldn't play with your kids so much, kids need to learn how to play independently."
"You are putting her in childcare already? She is so young!"
I haven't only heard this very audacious comments, I've heard a lot of sweet ones too. Some how, unfortunately, it's a lot easier to remember these. If I chew on them long enough I can start believing the message: Maybe I'm a bad mom.
A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post called "What Not to Say to Young Moms" and it got over 10,000 views on the first day I posted it. I say that not to boast numbers to but to share that I KNOW that other moms feel this way. That post was to call out all those people who say so many things and have so many opinions, this post isn't for them. This post is for you-- the mom or the future mom that needs to pin this for the day that you will inevitably need these words.
Somewhere along the way we started believing that the opinions of others validated our position in life-- whether that is as a mom, wife, worker, etc. Other's opinions don't validate you. Not even a little.
So let me remind you of a few things I know to be true about you, Mama.
We are all guessing as we go, it's OK if you don't know what to do. It doesn't matter how many degrees you have, kids that live under your roof, blogs you follow, counselors you've seen, or books you've completed; parenting is a guessing game about 98% of the time. Anyone that claims otherwise is either lying, ignorant or doesn't have kids (or hasn't raised kids in a while).
(When it comes to this it is good to get advice, but seek it out instead of listening to those opinions that are thrown up on you. Call or text other mamas you trust. Find some moms that are a few seasons ahead of you in life and learn from all their mistakes and victories. Join some Facebook Mommy Groups. There is a well of women that are willing to help out. We are a tribe, we are in this together. You don't have to do this parenting thing alone.)
No one knows your kids like you. You aren't an expert on them but you are as close to it as they come. Someone else's generalized opinions of your child is just that, an opinion. I love it when moms say, "This is what we are doing for this kid right now." They know that the decision they've made- be it school, discipline, diet, etc.- could change from kid to kid, season to season. You know your kid and only you know what's best.
No one knows you like you. We have to free ourselves to be ourselves. We all do this mama thing different. Some of us stay home all the time, some of us work from home part-time, some work from home full-time. Some do Mother's Day Out, some do full time preschool, some homeschool. Some are all organic and some eat Kraft Mac-n-Cheese for dinner twice a week. Do it your way mama. I feel like my way has changed every year with every kid. If I allow insecurity to root in, I can feel like a flake who flounders from one method to another. Give yourself freedom and grace to let this evolve. You will find your way. There isn't just one way to be a mom. It is impossible to love your kid more or less. Give your kids the best mom you can, and you will know what that means.
There are about 1 million different (statistically proven) ways to discipline. Find a way that works for you and your kid. Then be prepared to make adjustments to that about every other day because they are children and they grow and change and then others might be added to the mix and that totally changes things. Find a way that works best of your family and be as consistent with that as you can. Then give yourself and your kids grace as you both figure it out together.
They really do grow up. Those newborn and toddler days crawled by for me with my first. I loved my daughter, but I had never had a job that was so over-stimulating and under-stimulating all at the same moment. That little baby who was so intense she had to be rocked so hard I nearly gave her whiplash, I just registered that, still crazy intense, big girl for kindergarten. Kindergarten. I have less than 100 days with her before she walks in those doors and we enter the school years as a family. #thedaysarelongbuttheyearsareshort
You really love your kids. You know how I know? Because on girls nights you can't help but to bring them up. Or your Instagram feed is filled with pictures of them because you can't help but posting just one more of that cute thing they did that day. Because even if this was a career changing presentation, you would skip it if your kid really needed you. Because you kiss boo-boos and scare away monsters. You snuggle them in just right and throw a killer dance party. You make sure they wipe their bottom and wash their hands and brush their teeth. They may drive you absolutely crazy most days, but as you crawl into bed you still scroll through photos of them on your phone and you can't help but smile.
This Mommy gig is tough, but oh so worth it. I often tell my girls that doing the hard work is always worth it. Our society has tricked itself into thinking that things should be easy and happen quick. Nonsense. Total crap. Parenting isn't a microwaved meal, it's a slow cooked meal. Would you rather a Lean Cuisine kid or a marinated for 24 hours and then slowly seared steak? No brainer. Would you rather do an extreme diet inevitably to rebound to a higher weight or change the way you eat and start working out but have a changed health forever? Give yourself time Mama. Don't try to photoshop parenting or find a loop-hole. Keep giving it time. Give yourself grace on the really hard days, and there will be plenty.
You sacrifice for them in more ways then they (and probably you) will ever know. It all started before they shared your last name. The loads of paperwork, attorney fees, trainings attended, and emotional rollercoaster all so they could join your family, were just the beginning. Or those 9 months that you carried them with stretch marks still to prove that there was in fact a human being inside of you. Your thoughts are never fully your own. You are constantly considering them even when you try not to. Schedules and meals and emotions and fears always swirling in that Mama head of you. You are a hero.
You will do anything for them. Anything. Don't even mess with Mama Bear. You are ready. Fully equipped. Don't even try to harm your little cub.
What else would you say to other moms? Join the discussion thread on Instagram here.
Share this with other moms who need a fresh reminder of who they really are.