It's truly amazing how prepared you can be for parenthood, only to have everything you thought you know fall by the proverbial wayside. For me, it took about six months of motherhood to realize just how wrong I was about, well, pretty much everything. Of course, now that I'm a little more "seasoned," it's easy to say the following but, trust me new moms: you shouldn't worry about making mistakes as a mother, for so many reasons.
I'm pretty much the queen of mom mistakes. I had that ridiculous pre-motherhood hubris, making a list of all the things I wouldn't let my kids play with, or eat, or watch. I held on to that list tightly, until all hell broke loose and I had a two year old and was pregnant with a second, suddenly and unexpectedly. Life happened, and I found myself compromising all of my ideals just so I could survive. It's a good thing I was seeing a psychiatrist at the time, because I had such an onslaught of mom guilt that I was almost crushed by it. All of those things I swore I'd never do? I did them (like, all of them) and I hated myself for it.
But, it turns out, making mistakes isn't nearly as bad for your kids as you (or anyone else) may have initially thought. Life goes on, your kids thrive despite the horrors you've subjected them to (like letting your kid sit in a soiled diaper which is something I've never done and by never I mean I have totally done that and it's the worst but it happens and, hey, we all survived), and you realize that one of your mom friends looked away only to find her toddler drinking her coffee so, I mean, we all mess up.
Honestly, mistakes are bound to happen and while it is pretty clichéd and kind of overused, you truly do learn more from the mistakes you'll inevitably make, than you will from the seemingly "perfect" days in which everything went right and parenthood seemed like a breeze. So, if you're like me (or any other parent) and you're making mistakes, here are 10 reasons why you shouldn't worry about it:
Let's face it: you can have the purest of intentions, have parenthood all planned out, but life happens. We all know that nobody is perfect when it comes to the rest of their lives, so why would becoming a parent make things any different?
Rest assured that whatever mistake you can possibly think up, someone else has already made it. You are not alone.
Let's face it: mom guilt exists and it is brutal. You will feel guilty for something you did at some point that negatively impacted your child; it's inevitable and unavoidable and it will make you feel two inches tall. I guarantee that your guilt will be tripled if you place excessively high expectations on yourself, and then let yourself down. Take it easy on yourself, mom. Honestly, you're doing great, even and especially on the days when you feel like you don't.
Do you know what makes you a bad parent? Gross neglect. Abuse. Abandonment. Do you know what doesn't make you a bad parent? Letting your kid watch six hours of television a few times, so that you can get work around the house (or your job) done. Or ordering pizza for dinner. Or forgetting something they needed. Or accidentally letting them roll of the bed. If you're feeling bad about all of these things, news flash: You're a pretty freakin' amazing mom.
Every parent has that one horrifying story of something they can't believe happened. For me, it was taking a road trip with my newborn, and my husband, and us both forgetting to actually strap our daughter into her car seat. I have a friend whose daughter rolled off the change table and reacted in a way that sent them flying to the hospital (she ended up being just fine). I'm telling you, every parent has that one story that they wish they didn't have but in a weird way, bonds them with every other parent trying to successfully make their way through this whole child rearing mess.
I remember when I started to cave, giving my daughter pre-packaged snacks after holding out for longer than, I assume, the average mom. I hated myself for it, but the truth is that it became far easier to feed a picky girl who was consistently on the bottom of the growth charts. I'm not saying it's the ideal solution for everyone, but for me and my family, my kid eats more now than she did when I was killing myself to make her completely organic meals.
If I could have one do-over with my daughter, it would be to start her toilet training the moment she showed interest. Instead, we didn't put any pressure on her at all, and ended up training her at close to four years old. Almost a year later and she still has accidents regularly, and I'm not sure if it's because she started so late, or because there's a physiological problem that we may or may not have facilitated. (Oh, hello again, mom guilt. Nice of you to stop by.)
You really need to spend your time wisely, when you're a parent. Staying up late and worrying about what you might do wrong when the baby arrives is bad for you on so many levels. I know it's easier said than done, but your psyche will thank you later.
While you're mentally killing yourself for the mistake you made, chances are, your kid has moved on and completely forgotten anything even happened. We're able to hold onto our mistakes because we're constantly analyzing our parenting methods and choices and what may be the result of a decision we've made; but our kids? Well, our kids are just living their lives free of such responsibility, and they're probably having a fantastic time. Let it go, mom. Trust me, your kid already has.
This is, arguably, one of the best pieces of parenting advice I have ever received. If you've messed up in some way and you feel absolutely horrible about it, that means you're a fantastic mother. It means you care and you're trying and you're looking for ways to better yourself. Yes, you should take it easy on yourself and, yes, there is no reason to rake yourself over the metaphorical coals for a mistake that is (probably) pretty common, but when you do feel that inevitable guilt, just remind yourself that you're feeling it because you're a fantastic mother who loves her kid(s).