Being a mom of young children is hard work. Since I only have young children at this point I’m not really sure that things will get easier. I think hard just changes to a different kind of hard. As kids grow they grow out of one hard behavior in exchange for another I’m sure. But parenting little kids is exhausting hard and worrisome hard and losing patience hard and wondering if you’re still sane hard.
Posts have been sparse this past week because I’ve been living out the hard. I’m exhausted to my core and I really have questioned my sanity in the last couple of days. It seems my little boy is going to live life either injured or ill every single day. I haven’t seen any gray hairs on my head yet (the blessing of great genes), but I’m totally expecting to wake up one day to a full head of white hair. This little man gives me great stress. He is so much fun, so loving and sweet, so cuddly and happy, but he’s a lot of work!
It’s so hard to know how to do the right thing for our kids. Who defines what “the right thing is”? My little boy injured himself at daycare, does that mean I instantly pull him out of a good daycare and put him in another daycare with strangers that we can’t afford in hopes that it might be safer? My daughter likes to throw a fit when she doesn’t get her way. Did you know that there are 81,573 opinions on how to properly parent her during those fits? And that’s just the number of opinions on my Facebook feed in one week. My son has been suffering from chronic ear infections and ruptured ear drums. He was put on an antibiotic injection which caused some major stomach issues. When do I decide that these issues are major enough to call the doctor’s “after hours” line?
Since I’ve been doing this parenting thing for four years, my best advice to myself is to always trust your gut and go with your mommy instinct. This usually works quite well. But sometimes I can’t tell the different between my instinct and my brain. I’ve read a million articles on various parenting topics, I’ve read several books, I completed several child development and Psychology courses in college, and I hear lots of advice from the millions of people in the world that I come into contact with everyday. It’s hard to tone down all the noise of what I’ve heard/read/been told and decide what my mommy instinct is really telling me.
I think what I’m learning is that I don’t have to have it all figured out. I don’t need to decipher between instinct and information all the time, sometimes I just need to try something. It’s not important to have all the answers, what’s important is to love your kids and just keep striving to do your best by them. If we make the wrong choice and make the situation worse instead of better, we just put one foot in front of the other, pick up the pieces, and try something else.
Because the reality is that I’m going to make bad decisions. My instincts will fail me. The advice of “experts” won’t work for my kids and my situation. Parenting isn’t about perfection. I think as parents, we learn and grow more than our kids do most of the time. And just as I offer my kids grace when they make mistakes, it’s important to offer myself that same grace. When you’re learning something new you will fail and fail again. That age old motto of “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” is exactly true in parenthood. We will fail in our parenting decisions every single day, but that doesn’t mean we’ve failed as parents. Because in the midst of our failures, we’ll also pass with flying colors. There will be days when we know we’ve hit a home run and our kids will amaze us. Sometimes we’ll fail seven times, but on the 8th attempt, the situation will turn around and end up beautifully.
What it takes to be a good parent is the courage to just keep going. To realize that all we need to do is love our kids. Love is enough. They will grow and blossom into amazing adults in spite of our mistakes as long as there is love, because love never fails.