As soon as I had my first child, I was inducted into a world of side-eyes and whispers and pearl clutching. I walked into a battlefield and felt the sharp sting of shrapnel constructed out of criticism and scrutiny. From breastfeeding to sleep training, I was drowning in disapproval, swallowing one harsh sentence after the other, begging for fresh air and words of encouragement. But, honestly, it didn't even matter what anyone else said to or about my parenting because, as a parent, I am my toughest critic. No one can come even remotely close to the relentless judgement I thrust upon myself. I am not at all bragging, either. This is actually really kind of sad.
Self-critique is a learned "skill." We are hardly ever praised. Positive reinforcement is a relatively new technique, even though it makes so much more sense than punishment ever did. From the time we are kids, we are taught self-critique. We are asked to assess our strengths and our weaknesses, then we're forced to focus on those weaknesses so they're eradicated or at least improved. We're punished when we do something wrong and are hardly ever acknowledged when we do something right. As teenagers, we are reminded of our imperfections by our peers. Our self-esteem is often damaged (at least short-term) by unrequited teenage love. We tend to look inward for answers at times when we should realize the issues are external. Performance reviews at work sometimes end with "no one is perfect and everyone can always improve." We are never really good enough for someone or something and, in the end, we end up not being good enough for ourselves.
I am aware of many of my flaws (although I am probably oblivious to some, too). I admit them willingly and accept myself for who I am. I've learned to accept my personality, my intricacies, my body, my outlook on life, my relationships, but I have yet to accept my parenting. Sure, I'd like to firmly believe in every decision I make when it comes to my children, but I would be lying if I said I make those decisions with 100 percent confidence. When it comes to parenting, I am definitely my biggest critic. I guess I just can't help it. I was taught this way.