How Not To Fail As A Parent.
How not to fail?
Now I have your attention – let me assure you that failure is not an option in parenting.
How could it be?
The sheer miracle of growing a tiny human being in your own body, is in itself a phenomenon that to this day, I can’t believe actually occurs.
From the time that a baby is only one-sixth of an inch long, the backbone, spinal column and nervous system are already forming and the kidneys, liver and intestines are beginning to take shape. At just 20 days old your baby’s heart begins to beat and will continue to do so until the end of their life.
Also by the 20th day, your little one has developed the foundations of the nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord. Taste buds are beginning to form and milk-teeth buds are present by just over six weeks.
“Motherhood is an apprenticeship, with very poor pay, long hours and
constant learning from your mistakes”.
All that happens within a woman’s body without her actively doing anything at all.
This human incubation is quite simply a miracle.
I saw a quote recently on a mummy Facebook page I follow and initially I was eager to read it, believing it would be an encouraging and uplifting start to my day.
It read like this:
How to be a mum in 2018…
Make sure your children’s academic, emotional, psychological, mental, spiritual, physical, nutritional and social needs are met, whilst being careful not to overstimulate, underestimate, improperly medicate, helicopter, or neglect them in a screen-free, processed foods-free, plastic-free, body positive, socially conscious, egalitarian but also authoritative, nurturing but fostering of independence, gentle but not overly permissive, pesticide-free, two-story, multilingual home, preferably in a cul-de-sac with a backyard.
Also – don’t forget the coconut oil.
You may need to lie down for a bit after reading that. I surely did.
After reflecting on these words, it made me think about the pressures that parents face in the 21st century. Even though we have more gadgets, faster technology and superior knowledge at our fingertips, it hasn’t slowed life down any.
We are to be constantly present and available, owing to smart-phones and international connectivity.
Communication has never been faster. Or more draining.
The seemingly unrelenting pace, the choices we face and the pressures to keep up, are keeping us all on our toes. And rest can appear impossible.
Let’s be honest, motherhood is hard.
Don’t let anyone infer that it is a breeze. Precious adults are a result of years of time spent shaping and moulding humans from a base note of love and patience.
And also making mistakes. Often.
I have yet to meet a mother who has never once in her entire lifetime made a single mistake.
I am positive, absolutely 200% sure she does not exist.
However, similarly, I am 300% confident that a tonne of mother’s like to pretend they have all their ducks perfectly placed in a row, alphabetised, on-time, on-trend, politically correct, genius-brained, colour-coded, on-point, flawless bringing up of humans.
These are not my people.
I mean, I made my first parental mistake, oh, within approximately 120 seconds of birthing my first child.
She was duly placed on my chest, beetroot red, which one can understand, given that she had been squeezed like a watermelon for the past two hours, waiting in the small confines of my birth canal.
Given her puce colour, I immediately enquired whether she had a giant birthmark on her entire face.
“No”, said the midwife, “she is just taking her first few breaths of life!”
Number one of millions of mistakes I would make as a parent, had begun.
But, we all know that parents grow in their skills, just like babies grow and develop. When we are handed our little one, they don’t come with a manual, dvd, matching mummy tee-shirt and baby onesie.
Parents become parents but not instantly.
It is a lifetime of learning, together.
In this space of encouragement, here are some things I have learnt along the way of my own parenting journey:
In other words, be proud of your journey. You may skip, whilst others run. Or hop when your friend prefers to amble. We all want happy, healthy and successful children.
There are many paths to choose from to reach the destination. Enjoy your ride without worrying if your neighbour is doing it better.
In the realm of motherhood and perfection, I’ve also realised over the years that my house is a home, filled with little moments that become rich memories. Don’t believe the lie that other mothers keep tidy and clean homes. LIVE in your house. I think it is almost impossible to maintain a perfect home with little people (or big people) to run after.
“Mothers are masters at faking it!”
And whilst I do love myself a bit of social media, I have to remind myself that Facebook and Instagram generally only paint a rosy picture and not always the gritty in-the-trenches moments of reality.
Whilst they are brilliant ways to connect with others and glimpse the lives of people whom I admire and/or aspire to be more like, I have realised if the perfect photos and well-laid out grids are pulling my heart down, causing me to feel like a failure, I put the phone down.
Similarly, regarding what we feed our families, whilst some live on take-outs a few nights a week, others may never grace the sliding doors of the golden arches. Many children need to be on special diets due to illness, allergies or culture and every mother has differing views of nutrition which is right for their family.
If you choose to feed your children green, protein, kale smoothies every morning, whilst your friend’s kids eat only pop tarts, it’s not a sign of failure to be different.
Remember different is normal, not the other way round. No matter what society tells us.
Some days my children eat cake for breakfast (generally when I am Face-timing my best friend in Australia and they know I am a pushover!).
Other mornings we eat whole-wheat oatmeal with dates and thick greek yoghurt.
Both is ok.
“We are the gate-keeper of our children’s hearts”.
And remember mama’s, just as your children have their own personalities, so do you, as a person and a mum.
Don’t berate yourself for not being able to handle it all. Nobody can, despite what you think you see in others.
Mothers are masters at faking it because we don’t want to appear as though we aren’t equipped for the job.
Nobody on this earth is 100% brilliant at everything and neither do you need to be as a mum.
Motherhood is an apprenticeship, with very poor pay, long hours and learning from your mistakes. This is what makes a great mother!
So do I agree with the complexities of the quote? Yes I do. I really do.
I think mother’s of 2018 have very, very full plates.
But from those weighty plates we give, nurture, love, sacrifice, compromise, juggle (how we juggle!), cheer, devote, support and encourage.
Every single day.
We are quite simply the gate-keeper of our children’s hearts.
And you know what? We are enough.
The perfect balance of imperfect and the only person in the whole wide world that our children can call Mummy.
You only get approximately 18 summers with your offspring at home with you.
Enjoy your unique ride and take your hands off the steering wheels and free-ride some days and embrace different.