On Motherhood, And Whether Or Not I’m Doing It Wrong

“Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.”
~ William Makepeace Thackeray

When you’re young, your mother is infallible; she can do no wrong. And then you become a little bit older, a teenager, and your mother can do no right. And then you become a parent yourself and you realize that all that time, your mother really had no idea what she was doing. She was just making it up as she went along, and in the back of her mind, behind the brave face she put on for you, she worried that she was doing it all wrong, and breaking you in the process.

And I, like most mothers, have spent my share of time already worrying that I’m doing it wrong too, and that my kids are going to suffer for it. But it’s so easy to doubt yourself as a parent these days, isn’t it? When it’s not good enough to just keep up with the Joneses; we have the whole of the Internets to keep up with now, too? How does one keep up with organic everything and cloth diaper services and Montessori schools and perfectly manicured catalogue lives? There’s dolphin parenting and tiger parenting and alpha and beta parenting and unparenting, apparently. What’s wrong with just… parenting? Why do we have to make it anything more than I’m doing the best I can and screw you if you think my best isn’t good enough?

So… I don’t try to keep up. I feed my kids hot dogs. They wear disposable diapers. I look at my phone at the playground. I’ve been known to let them eat cookies before they’ve had breakfast. I don’t give them daily baths. Sometimes the 5-point harness is even loose enough for me to fit two fingers in between, simply because loosening it for her finally shut up the whining from the back seat.

Judge me.

I look back on my own childhood; and I see my mother in myself. When I’m lecturing Nyana about {{insert random three-year old indiscretion here}}—and I have no idea if I’m saying the right things or giving the right tone or uttering words that she’s going to hold onto forever and cause some emotional complex—I hear my mother in my words. I hear my mother saying the same things to me, rambling with no idea if the words being spoken are actually being heard—or even making sense, for that matter—and I realize that my mother was just as uncertain with her words then as I am now with mine. I’m reminded that there’s no right way to do this. There’s just my way to do this. This is the best I can do and screw you if you think my best isn’t good enough.

Don and the kids reminded me yesterday that my best is good enough for them; that it doesn’t matter if I have no idea what I’m doing. They let me sleep until nine and brought me coffee in bed. They made me crafts and made me dinner and made sure I didn’t lift a finger all day. They made me feel like a Queen. And they reminded me that there’s no single way to be a perfect mother, but there are a million ways to be a great mother. And that’s good enough for me.

Nyana's star.

Painting from the kids.


Comments

On Motherhood, And Whether Or Not I’m Doing It Wrong — 2 Comments

  1. Your insight into motherhood is bang on, Karen! And you are so right when you say that there is no single way to be a perfect mother because there is no such thing. Just parent in a way that feels right and comfortable for you and the family and don’t worry what other people (or parents) say. Not only are there a million ways to be a great mother but there are also a million ways to be a loving mother and you are well on your way to being both. You are an incredible daughter and mother. Don’t ever second guess yourself. Ever.

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