The Parenting Pressure Cooker

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The pressure of being a parent is immense. Moms I think especially as our little kiddies start their lives, we carry huge burdens in terms of what people think about our kids, are we doing everything right, what would my mother have done, what do other kids think of my child? If it’s not on the good side, is that my fault?

We have a supper club that Matt and I are a part of. About 2 years ago, maybe a bit more, Matt and I went through the “Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage” course at church with two other couples and we’ve since stayed close friends. (By the way, if you haven’t done the course and you get the opportunity to, RUN, not walk, to sign up! It’s such a great way to learn more about your husband/wife in a light, fun environment.) Anyway, us three couples meet every couple of months for a get together and a dinner which is always just an awesome time for us all to chill out and catch up. Now, we have two kids, one couple has one little boy who’s nearly a year now and the other couple are having their first baby in December. You can just imagine the amount of advice flying around that room at our last dinner! After sharing our stories and funny anecdotes and do’s and don’ts to help them deal with their impending parenthood, my good friend Sim (who’s got a little boy) turned to us girls and said “the one thing I’ve learnt since becoming a mom is that I’m no one to judge. Whatever gets you through the night and whatever makes your child a happy one, that’s what you gotta keep your eyes on. What works for me, might not work for you.” And that’s stuck with me since then.

It seems that parenthood between moms especially, is a competition. Maybe it always has been and I think that every stage of your baby’s life, comes with a different facet of competition. When you’re in the baby stage, it seems that everyone wants to know how you gave birth (and everyone has an opinion as to which one is better ~ c section or natural) and once that’s out of the way, how long you breastfed for (when I mentioned I wanted to put my second baby straight onto the bottle, I was met with looks of disdain.) Then it gets down to seeing whose baby sleeps the longest at night, when your child got teeth, when your child crawled, when your child walked, when your child talked.  Parents, let me warn you ~ if you’re ever asked if your child has spent even a night in your bed, be careful at your answer. This seems to be the MOST HORRIFIC parenting mistake one can make.

Let me give you a little insight into my life as a mommy and feel free to look at the computer screen with contempt ~ this time, I won’t be able to see you 🙂

Noah is 4 years old. Yes, he still has a dummy. Ok, not all the time, but yes, when his head hits the pillow to sleep, he still wants his dummy and I’m ok with that. I understand the dummy’s reign is going to come to an end soon, but right now, yes, he still has one when he sleeps.

Tyla is 2 years old and she still has a bottle. Yip, the pukka Avent bottle, not a sippy cup, not a normal cup. Look, depending on what mood she’s in, I can get her to drink out a sippy cup and a normal cup, but when she’s looking for something to soothe her, she’ll ask for her bottle. Do I give it to her? Yes, I do.

There we go. I’ve admitted just a couple of my parenting shortfalls and there are many more, believe me (Just as a side note, Noah still doesn’t sleep through the night… How’s that for sleeping through the night before they’re one? Um, try “I’m still trying to get that right at 4 years old.”)

Now, obviously there are boundaries. Noah won’t be entering 2014 with a dummy at night and my baby girl Tyla won’t be having her bottle until she’s 4 or 5. I hear you that I could’ve gotten rid of both these things earlier. Being a mom, means putting your child’s needs before your own. That sometimes means picking the harder way to solve a problem, rather than an easier one. I’ll admit I’ve up until now, bailed out on this idea in the name of sleeping, for example. Because I don’t want to fight Tyla’s crying for an hour before she sleeps, I’ll give in and give her a bottle. I always tell myself I’ll gather the strength one day to do it and that day just never comes. It’s like putting off the inevitable. Do I think that it’s a major train smash and that I’ve failed Noah as a mother because he still sleeps with a dummy? Definitely not but a day is coming where I’m going to have to get less sleep than I am now, pucker up enough resolve and strength to fight my little boy’s tears in the name of getting Noah dummy free.

No-one’s parenting journey is the same. Before I was a mom, and a child had a dummy at 3 years old, never mind 4 years old, to go to sleep with, I would totally get the “that’s just horrendous parenting” look but now that I’ve walking this parenting path, if there’s any facet of a child that I can’t identify with because my kids aren’t the same, I just look at those parents and think “hey? They’re doing a good job. Whatever works for them and gets them through a 24 hour day, awesome.” (Now let me clarify, that anything to a child’s extreme detriment, I could never condone or justify)

Let me share something with all your moms who worry that your children aren’t keeping up, that they haven’t walked early enough, that they haven’t crawled soon enough, that they don’t sleep through the night young enough:

YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE. God gave you your specific child because He chose you to be their mommy. He didn’t think anyone else could parent that child better than you could, and that’s why you get the privilege of bringing up that baby. Don’t worry about when everyone else’s child was potty trained, when everyone else’s child could form a full sentence, when everyone else’s child got their fine motor skills mastered. As long as you’re pouring your heart and soul into loving your baby as best you can, ensuring their best interests are at heart, and relying on God to help you be the best mother you can be on a daily basis, you’re doing the best that can be done for your child.

I have this little note on my phone and I refer to it every once in a while ~ to all my mommy friends out there, and all of those who know a mommy who could use this reminder, send it on.

“Dear mom who needs to be reminded that she matters ~ this is your reminder.

Nobody could be the mom you are to your children – only you can.

Now, go back to all you’re doing – your cleaning, working, driving, nose-wiping, cooking, clothes-folding, everyday things – and hold your head up high. Motherhood matters. More than having the perfect house, the perfect body, the perfect planning schedule, THE PERFECT KIDS, the perfect anything.

You are a game changer. A life changer and that is why you matter.”