I was hiding from my children yesterday when my phone rang. It was a dear friend and fellow mother. I answered and she seemed sad. I asked her what was wrong and she replied, “I’m afraid I’m ruining my children.” I assured her we are all ruining our children, that this is parenting. In fact, they will be in therapy and may develop some weird sexual fetishes. She laughed. Because that is ridiculous. She is a great mother that loves her children immensely. The fact that she was worried, in itself, proves she is doing her very best for her little terrorists.
I am by no means any kind of parenting guru. I mess up. I yell and scream and bribe my kids. I am on Facebook while they are awake and sometimes we eat goldfish crackers for breakfast. I do know that I am doing the very best I can with the life we have. I know that I love my two with more of my heart than I thought possible. I know that I fuck up daily. I know if I had just a little more patience at dinner, maybe they would eat their vegetables. I know when I skip pages at bedtime, I am not at my best. I realize as I write this in the bathroom with the door locked, I am missing out on quality playtime. But it is the very best I have to give in this moment. And I think it is pretty good.
My children know love. They know my love. They know our family’s love. They know that when I tuck them into bed at night there is nowhere I’d rather be. They are healthy and happy little boys. They are also giant assholes sometimes too. They are four. It’s to be expected. Parenting isn’t easy. Being a mother isn’t easy. There are so many expectations, from what we should look like, to how we speak to our kids to what toys we should allow them to play with (mine have been playing with a box from Amazon for the past three days.)
Mothers raise their children and fathers babysit their children. Mothers worry about milestones while fathers play with the sensory toys. Fathers are praised for changing diapers and giving baths and mothers are chastised for checking emails on the playground. Fathers are complimented when they run errands with kids in tow. Mothers are judged for yelling at a tantrum throwing toddler in the supermarket. Why?
Because we did this. We — mothers — created this double standard. Our need to control and do everything ourselves created this imbalance in our society. Moms – we can’t do it all. We can’t be the perfect mother, wife, daughter and coworker. Something has to give. And it will. Our sanity will pay the price. It’s time we give up the control and expectations.
How do we do this, you ask? We talk to each other. We stop judging each other. We hand some control over to dads, and caregivers. We need to stop worrying that we are ruining our children and stop being so hard on ourselves. The cycle breaks with us. We need to stop chasing perfection. There is no perfection in parenting. There is only survival and a whole lotta love. Some days are going to feel perfect and some days are going to feel like the third level of hell. The sooner we stop beating ourselves up, the better we all will be.
I suppose I should unlock the bathroom door and see why they are so quiet.
Moms – love yourselves. And talk to each other. Be honest. And kiss your babies while knowing that you are truly amazing.
Laura Birks is mother of 4 year old twin boys. She just recently quit her 9-5 job to start a freelance writing career. Superwoman. She writes regularly for her blog positivelysarcastic.