Who said parenting was easy? I still wonder if I’m any good at this…
It would be a lie for me to tell you that parenting comes naturally to me. When I envisioned being a parent, I just assumed because of my education and background that I would rock at it. And then my daughter, Winnie, was born. And I swear to you, the moment she arrived (which was after many hours of labor), after a brief fleeting thought of “Thank you, God, I did it, every self doubt I’ve ever had flooded into my head and all I could think about was, “How will I ever give this perfect being what she deserves?”
Nearly four years later, I still wonder what I am doing. I still wonder if I am good enough to be her mom. And seriously, didn’t I deal with this line of self-doubt and questioning in middle school? Why is this popping up for me again? (Insert a new blog post here later…sheesh)
I hope I am giving her what she needs, but even thinking about it brings tears to my eyes, because the days in which I wonder, still feel so heavy. The worst part is, I have no indicator as to whether I am on the right track. You see, my love for her is so great, that I believe it would take an extraordinary amount of “abnormality” for me to see something negative about her. Is she on track to be a lawyer or a psychopath? Is she normal? Does she have a learning disability? Is she a kind friend? I wouldn’t be surprised by any answers to these questions as I truly just can’t see beyond what I consider to be her flawless beauty, high level of intelligence, an impeccable sense of humor (just like her mama).
It is in this great bias surrounded by love that I have come to respect and care for each parent that I come in contact with. I believe we are all doing the best we can.
“I think it’s in these moments of doubt that we as parents start to look around to others to see if we are doing okay.”
I wonder if measuring our own parenting success based on others opinions is helpful or even healthy. Some friends of ours took their four-month-old on vacation to Europe for two weeks (FOR FUN), and upon hearing the news, my husband and I looked at each other and thought, “What the bleep-blop are we doing wrong?” The thought of such a trip still seems so overwhelming. Have you ever looked at your friends and wondered how they were able to pull off some of the things they accomplish with their kids?
Through my own journey, I have found comparison to rob my happiness, and I have decided to stop asking myself questions that don’t positively serve me or my family……questions such as, “Is this normal? Why are we here? Why do I have a child that doesn’t sleep? What am I doing wrong? Was that good enough?” The analysis and answers to these questions have proven unhelpful.
I have replaced these questions with confident affirmations:
- “This is where we are at, and it doesn’t matter why. We are here.”
- “Why are we here? Because we are.”
- “Why aren’t we calmer? Because we’re not.”
- “What can I do? Just take the next right step and make the next right move.”
- “What does she need? Just look at her and take the next right step in this moment.
Through this new mindset I have found peace with just becoming a mindful parent. For me, this means making sure that I am healthy, calm, and present as much as possible. It means being reflective. We have replaced our evening reflections to include, “Did I show up for my kids today in a way that I feel good about? Was I present? Did I evoke a feeling in my child that they will remember as warm?” and lastly, “What can I give her tomorrow?”
I share my vulnerabilities with you because, in my experience running childcare centers for five years now, I have come to accept that the insecurities that I feel as a mom are common place. We are so good at protecting ourselves and showing only our healed scars that we fail to talk about the journey while we are on the horse.
I am here to tell you, wounds ablazing, that I am finding peace in being mindful, and mindfulness as a parent is something completely different than I have ever imagined. It’s hard. It hurts. It’s fast-paced and intense, and yet, so much love. That’s all. So.much.love.
You are doing great, Mama. You are doing great, Daddy. You don’t need to ask anybody else for reassurance. But on the days you wonder and feel heavy, you can come to my office and ask me how you are doing. (Insert answer: Great).
Leap Academy first opened in 2014 in Waunakee, Wisconsin with a second location in Madison four years later. It was opened by Maria Fitz-Gibbon and her partner, Patrick.
Prior to opening Leap Academy, Maria worked as a Mental Health Practitioner in Minnesota Public Schools. Her focus was on teaching social skills to children who had severe emotional and/or behavioral disabilities.
Our goal for each child in our center is to feel safe, welcomed, and nurtured. Our goal for each family is to feel joined in the journey of child-rearing. We strive to have each child leave our program excited to learn and explore the world around him or her by providing high-quality early-childhood education in a safe, clean, and nurturing environment. Our team at Leap Academy works hard to continue cultivating a program in our center that enhances whole-child development.