I want to take some time to encourage the moms and dads out there. Recently, I’ve been feeling a bit like I’m drowning, or setting my daughter up for disaster because I let her watch The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse while I finish the dishes or start dinner. I talk to my daughter all day, and explain what I am doing as if I am a instructional guide, but for the bit of time she is watching Mickey I feel I am failing her. Before Arwen I had a fear of singing, since I’m not the best at it, but now I catch myself singing random sentences all the time as well as my daughter’s all time favorite hit, the ABCs. Those ABCs have saved me while I had to check to see if my daughter had a fever, using a less-than-pleasant method. My smooth sounding voice along with the greatness of my singing ability calmed her down enough to let me do what I needed to do.
Thank you, ABCs.
We play together, but sometimes I need to do the dishes, make myself not look like a zombie or try to do some designing. These are the times during which I let her watch Mickey, not because I think of the television show as a babysitter, but because she honestly loves “Ah-ah,” otherwise known as Mickey (She thinks he’s a monkey. We’re still working on that.). But at the end of the day, I still find myself upset that I didn’t do enough.
My husband and I decided that it would be best if I stayed home with our daughter. For one, I couldn’t bring myself to leave her because of something that happened to me when I was left with a babysitter as a child, but also, if I were working, I’d be going to work to bring home MAYBE $100 after having paid someone else to watch her. In no way do I think it’s a bad thing for a parent to work and leave their child with a sitter or a nanny. If you’re doing something to make it work for your family, I applaud you! Each family is so different, and we need to keep that in mind instead of condemning someone who is doing something different than what you’re doing, or plan on doing. No matter how you decide to raise your child, if you’re being a fairly good parent, meaning that your kids are fed, taken care of, loved, paid attention to and basically given all the essentials, you’re doing a great job!
Part of the reason I’ve been feeling like I’ve been drowning or getting angry at myself at the end of the day is because I let little comments creep into my mind. I scroll through Facebook and see the mom that can do 100 things while still having a happy child. When I see this, I feel like I’m failing my little one, although I’m sure that the Facebook moms whom I look up to don’t want to air out the gritty details of each day all over their newsfeed, focusing instead on posting positive things. Their intentions aren’t to mentor “lesser moms,” but simply to post, like we do, so family members that aren’t nearby can be made aware of the fact that Arwen looked left today instead of right today.
For the most part, I like to keep my social media a happy place too, not because I’m trying to be fake or that anyone else is, but because the world doesn’t need to know that Arwen pooped everywhere today or that my husband was late, or that I caught the oven on fire, burned my hand and wanted to cry in a corner but couldn’t because I had to sing the ABCs to a very amused and curious toddler. Even announcing that your baby wiped poop on you though, is a bit of comic relief for you and those who can relate. If you were to ask any of the parents posting adorable Facebook photos of their child whether they ever have bad days with their little cutie pie, the answer would be a resounding, “YES!” In fact, the moments that are chosen for sharing with the world may be some of the briefest happy moments of the day that can be looked back on when poop is being flung on me or my keys are being thrown in the trash. It’s a good way to remember that it’s not always a circus here.
Being a parent is so much fun! I love every moment, even the poopy ones. I’m well aware that I say I don’t always (Emphasis on the world ALWAYS) announce the bad moments on social media, despite the fact that I just word vomited some of the best and worst moments all in in one blog post, but I love being Arwen’s mom and Chris’ wife through all the good and not-so-good moments.
There is so much pressure nowadays to be something that might not be realistic for everyone. Some of the things that are expected of you are ridiculous, and you find yourself thinking things like, “Oh my gosh, my child is 1 and a half years old and can’t recite each state’s capital! I’M FAILING AS A PARENT!” Most people have the best intentions, but some just say things for the sake of saying things. Most of the times, these expectations are placed on us by people that we don’t really even know, but for whatever reason those are the statements that stick with us and make us realize we’re failing.
This is the farthest thing from the truth. I’ve put so much pressure on myself to do every craft on Pinterest, to teach my daughter to eat right, to make sure she sees that I’m trying to get in shape and to make sure everything is clean and beautiful. But, it won’t always work out that way. In fact, it hardly ever works out that way!
I have a beautiful friend named Maggie U., whom I’ve looked up to for many years who has two beautiful kids. She’s a powerhouse! She works, cooks amazing organic foods, her kids love veggies, and she looks amazing while doing it (Both on Facebook AND in person!). I’ve never felt pressured by her to be how she is, EVER, but I wouldn’t mind if I ended up like her. She is someone who is constantly encouraging me and letting me know I’m doing a good job, inspiring me to be better without her even knowing it. She posts a lot of things on Facebook about eating right, what’s good and what isn’t. I honestly enjoy reading the things she shares. Even though I grew up eating cheese in a can, and loved every second of it, I know that shouldn’t be a meal for a toddler or even for myself… Blah, blah, blah.
One day, Maggie shared a post titled, “To the Mom Who Doesn’t Give Her Kids Organic Food.” There was a picture of goldfish crackers, my daughter’s all time favorite snack right behind cucumbers, grapes and bananas. I thought this was going to be the one post that would inform me that I’m feeding my child poison and that I’m the worst parent ever. Instead, it was the post that made me cry and assured me that I’m doing okay! The premise of the post was that if you feed your child organic food, great! If you don’t, great! Are you trying to give them a balanced meal? Are you NOT feeding them cheese in a can for dinner? Okay, it doesn’t say that last part, but you get it. Basically, if you’re trying, you’re doing well! That post actually changed a lot in me and made me love my friend even more, as well as the blogger who wrote it. It was a perfect example of not judging people who do things differently than you. I needed that reassurance, and she didn’t even know it!
Even amongst all the pressures from the outside world, a lot of the time the most pressure comes from placing unrealistic expectations on ourselves. I would LOVE if we had more money so I could get my daughter everything her 1 and a half year old heart desires. Luckily, right now that’s mostly grapes and Goldfish crackers. As her second birthday approaches, I find myself fretting because we can’t give her a big party for her birthday like we did last year with the financial help of my family (Thanks, Grandma Karen, for renting the park and making food, mother De Vesta for buying favors, and doing food, Aunt Mia for dessert and Zia for lending decorations, and so many others!). Of course, this pressure completely stems from me! It’s not like she woke up when she was 1 year old and let me know she expects a huge party. So, her second birthday party will just be family. We’re having a Mickey Mouse, “Ah-ah” Donut Party! She won’t remember it, and if we can’t give her big birthday parties even when she does start remembering them, one thing she WILL remember is that we made that day as special as we can. She will never be lacking in love.
We’re trying our best to teach her right from wrong. Eating fruits and vegetables and chicken is good! Eating the bottoms of shoes… Not so much. Dancing is fun, singing is great! Being silly is her job right now as she learns new words and is the target of all our snuggles and kisses. We’re encouraging her in each new step of her life and will continue to do so throughout the entirety of our lives. I pray that at some point we can have enough to give her the things she wants, in moderation, but right now she doesn’t care! She’s happy and crazy and knows she is loved, even at 2 AM when we want to sleep but all she wants to do is snuggle because she isn’t feeling well. She knows we’re there, and I know she appreciates it because she grabs your face, looks into your eyes, puts her forehead on yours and smiles. These moments. These moments. I love her so much.
When I look at my beautiful girl and see she’s growing and healthy, making strides into her journey as a toddler, I have to sit back and relax and realize we’re okay! We’re not endangering her or being careless while raising her. We will make mistakes, and will not be perfect but I have to say that we’re doing a pretty good job.
So, I want to say the same to all the other parents trying. If you’re trying your best (you know what that is) and not putting your children in harm’s way, not giving them cheese from a can for every meal, you’re doing great too! Surround yourself with people whom you love and trust. We have so many people that we ask for welcomed advice from. We want to grow as parents, and we’ve never done this before so we know we need direction at times. Thank you, to all our family and close friends who’ve let us ask silly questions, serious ones too, and have given us opinions and advice, and in the same breath encouragement.
It’s hard. It’s really hard. I don’t want to mess up my little girl, but with the thoughtfulness and love we have around us, I know she’ll be less messed up.
Do your best! Ask for help. Give yourself some credit, and don’t let your own expectations sabotage all the great things you’re doing raising your little ones!