To my fellow parents-in-arms,
Wherever you are in your parenting adventure, I want you to stop for two seconds and reflect on what a good job you are doing. If your little one is happy, consider yourself a successful parent. That said, if it’s just one of those days and you need some extra reassurance, I’m here to share some of my thoughts and reflections so that you can rest assured (rest...I know, hilarious, right?) your little one is going to turn out just fine.
To provide some context before we dive in, my daughter is 6 and if you were to ask her, she’d tell you that she is pretty much already an adult. That’s 6 whole years of opportunities to make mommy mistakes, but even given all the missteps and stumbles I’ve made, she is still smart, happy, sweet, generous, thoughtful, funny and stubborn as a mule. I don’t know where she got the stubborn thing from, for the record.
Yes, I let her dress herself. And yes, she did go out of the house in that. And yes, people stared, but also thought she looked adorable. Because she did. Am I a “bad” parent because she wore jammies to the grocery store and, even more scandalously, her outfit was not color coordinated? Or am I an awesome parent because I allowed her to express her individuality? This is just one example of how:
No matter what we do as parents, someone will always judge. They may not always vocalize it, but we are being judged.
It doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks of your parenting methods as long as it works for your family.
And some more real talk: no matter how good anyone else’s intentions may be, you know better than anyone what your little one needs and they rely on you for everything. It’s scary, it’s intimidating, and it’s overwhelming, but it is also amazing and humbling, and it puts the world into perspective. There is nothing more rewarding and important than being a parent. Reading this post and relating to that statement should be confirmation enough that you are killing it in the parenting department. Either that or my mad writing skills are completely engrossing and you just can’t stop reading. Probably the former, though.
If you need more reassurance, allow me to list off the top … let’s just call them learning opportunities … I’ve made as a parent for each year of my girlie’s life thus far:
I didn’t realize until months (fine...years) after she was out of onesies that the flip collars flipped down to make it easier to put over my daughter’s head or to pull down for easier clean up of “blowouts.” These things:
As a result, my attempts to pull these over her head would result in her adorable little nose getting squished every time. She did not like it then, and I may have traumatized her in the process, because even now she scrunches up her face when she puts on shirts.
I watched too many episodes of Dexter with my little one in my lap, and it took her pointing to the screen and saying, “Uh oh, Mommy, owies,” as Dexter was stabbing some criminal through the heart that I finally realized, “Oh, I should probably start filtering what she watches.”
I didn’t filter her television shows enough, and when questioned by a family member what her favorite show was, her response was Family Guy. Further, she announced that Peter was her favorite because he “made toots on Meg’s head.” Proud mommy moment.
After days of a completely illogical fear of possums, I told a bold-faced lie and explained that possums didn’t like the smell of candles and put a watermelon scented candle by her bed so she would stop talking about possums. Side note: don’t ever, ever show your kids pictures of possums. Even if they ask what they look like and you think you are being a good parent by showing them and teaching them about nature. This exact picture spawned a week’s worth of nightmares and multiple conversations about what possums can and can’t do:
I still haven’t convinced her that possums can’t sneak in the house in the middle of the night.
I totally ate the last of my daughter’s Frozen Lucky Charms knock-off cereal late one night and crushed her little Elsa-loving heart when they were not there the next morning. Did I feel terrible? Yes. Was I disappointed in myself? Yes. Was the cereal delicious? Yes. To be fair, she did eat the entire rest of the box herself, and there was hardly any left. I was just finishing off the last little bit to make room for other pantry items.
I taught my daughter her first curse word. After weeks of scathing glances at anyone who uttered anything worse than “darn,” I slept through my alarm, realized I was very, very late, and unintentionally muttered one of my favorite four letter words. It wasn’t the worst word I could have taught her, but my friends and family thought it was HILARIOUS watching my 14-month-old walk around the house repeating, “Oh, s**t,” over and over while I tried to ignore it, hoping the new phrase would die out.
At the end of the day, if you care enough to even wonder if you are doing a good enough job, you are doing just fine. Enjoy the fun, crazy, and sometimes bumpy ride. The bumps make for the best stories anyway.
Seriously, though, if you take anything away from this, let it be to NOT show your children Google image results without screening them first.
Have any similar stories you’d like to share to let other parents know that they are doing okay? Feel free to add your anecdote in the comments below. And to get more information and musings from Sarah, follow her on Twitter @sarah_stapp, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
Sarah Stapp is the creator of LatherMitts and mommy to a sassy 6 year old girl. She's originally from Houston, Texas, has lived in Chicago for over a decade, but refuses to adjust to the cold. After 6 years in the startup space after 6 in management, Sarah is trying out the titles of inventor and entrepreneur. Sarah loves hot yoga, trying new vegan recipes & GoT.