As I've got older I've become more acquainted with myself, more at ease with me. Confident is the wrong word, I've just accepted who I am and don't feel the need to try and be something different. However this changed a little when I became a mummy. All of a sudden I felt thrown back to those teenage years when I felt a little out of my depth within myself! There were so many other mummies out there who were doing it better, getting it more right than me and putting me to shame. All of a sudden I felt like I needed to do things that didn't come naturally to me in order to be the 'parent' that everyone else seemed to be. It was a bit like parent peer-pressure, like the days at school when everyone starts 'doing it'. You don't want to feel left out so you join in and say you've 'done it' too when really the thought terrifies you and you're spending your nights with a long suffering teddy bear rather than a spotty, pubescent teenage boy!
I would sit at the baby center and listen as mothers would boast about their children, their parenting skills and their achievements. All the while feeling more uneasy about my own. It had the effect that it made me compare everything and for some reason I always fell short (or so I thought). Every toddlers group always had the one woman who knew best, who never dared give her child a jar of food, EVER, who swore blind that breastfeeding was the ONLY way to feed a child, who's child was brainy enough to be taking his maths GCSE's at 10 months old. You know, THAT woman. There's always one. She used to make my inside itch and my inner parent cower and hide in shame.
Something started to change when people began to comment on my son as he progressed out of his baby-hood. People always said how good he was, happy he was or the like. And slowly it began to click that actually I wasn't doing anything wrong. In fact the opposite, my son was as happy as they come so in my eyes I could only be doing something right. When I realized this I looked back on all the choices I had guessed at, all the decisions I had made led by nothing but my instincts and realized that this WAS actually enough. As a parent there is no guide, no instruction manual (Lord knows I wish there was!) so in my naivety I had begun to listen to those mothers who seemed to be the perfect stepford wife-perfect house, perfect kids, husband happy in the bedroom. That sort of thing. And I now realize that isn't the case, that's not me and you know what? That's good enough for us because we are all still happy.
Since I started blogging I hear a lot of women comparing their children and worrying they feel theirs falls short compared to the subject of their chosen topic. I find that people are constantly made to feel that their parenting skills aren't up to scratch if their child isn't the top of their class. They then blame themselves and feel they made the wrong decisions somewhere and that annoying woman from the toddler group echo's in their heads.
What I'm trying to say is that we all feel like this, parenting can make us all feel lost, unsuccessful and ill equipped BUT we have something that should show each and every one of us that we are good parents. Our decisions are the right ones and our choices show benefits.
Our children show us that we are doing a great job.
Our children show us that we don't always get it right but that's ok and that all those gambles we felt we were taking when it came to even the most mundane of choices-they all work out and this is proved when our children happily plod through another day. If I ever need reassurance that my parenting is up to scratch then I just look at my son. He's still alive, he still eats, sleeps, fills nappies,breathes and laughs so I must be doing something right?! Seeing him 18 months on smiling away and chattering to his toys in his own gibberish is all the reassurance I need that my instinct are enough. My parenting is enough. And so is yours.
As for the stepford wives of the world? I like to imagine her face if I posted one of my sons dirty nappies to her...just makes me feel better when times are tough! ha!
Love Chloe xx