Tonight I lay here wondering how parents navigate through the norms of today. What are children supposed to be doing? And at what stages in life? I’m constantly feeling like I’ve dropped the ball on yet another milestone with our children.

The other day a good friend of mine posted on social media that her oldest, now three and a half, is playing soccer. Her daughter is only a few months older than our son J, so my bad mom feeling goes in to overdrive. I had no idea three year olds were supposed to play soccer! What do I do? Well, I get online and spend over an hour trying to figure out what soccer programs are in our area. Thankfully I find a program, and they have just one class that hasn’t started yet! Granted, it starts in a few days, so we just barely made the cut off, but I get to avoid the bad mom award today. Phew!

However, I was not so fortunate to avoid this bad mom award a few weeks ago. Did you know there are no-pedal training bikes for toddlers? And that children should start using these special training bikes at 18 months? I sure didn’t! My mother-in-law learned about them and bought one for J to use at their house. She told me we were behind in his bike development. I had no idea. I always thought kids just got bikes with training wheels, once they figured out how to pedal their tricycles. We did get J a tricycle when he was 2, so I thought we were on top of the bicycle training game. Nope! Now he can’t wait to get to Grandma and Papa’s house to ride his bike, or rather, sit and push himself around on the pedal-less bike. He’s quite good at it too! He’s really developing his balancing skills!

My sister-in-law is an amazing new mom. She’s truly navigating parenthood with fresh eyes. She asks me for advice! Really, it’s so sweet, yet probably not a good idea with all the bad mom awards I’m constantly getting. She says to me regularly, “why didn’t you tell me?” This is a joking reference about all the things she’s encountering as a new parent that she really didn’t know would come with the territory. And man, I know exactly how she feels! It’s not just with developmental milestones for J, but relearning milestones for our 7 month old daughter, A. My sister-in-law reminds me that we aren’t the only parents who don’t know what to expect. Or really, don’t know what we are doing. And thank goodness for those reminders, and reassurances she gives me! Being told we are doing the best we can really keeps me off the ledge at times.

Really, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t question my ability to parent. It’s amazing how you can prepare yourself for pregnancy, and for delivering a baby. You can even take all the new parent classes through the hospital to best prepare yourself for the parenting life. But what does that really prepare us for? And what about everything that happens after you get home from the hospital? I seriously don’t have time for parenting books! Though I try. And even so, they don’t tell me when we should enroll J in classes, or what kind of bicycles he should have. And all the internet searching on how to be parents? Well, that just keeps us questioning our judgement and really takes more time away from our kids. If we spend too much time on our devices, we are frowned upon. If we don’t research, read, and learn, we are frowned upon. It just might be a vicious cycle we never planned to get into.

So to all the moms always giving yourself the bad mom award like I do, STOP IT! This goes for dads too! If you panic, or have ever panicked, thinking you have failed your child, that’s your indication that you are a good parent! None of us get it right all the time. In fact, many of us don’t get it right most of the time. But the fact that we are trying is huge! Plus, our kids don’t really know we are messing things up, because they have no basis to compare us to. So take that deep breath, skip the self-guilt trip, and spare yourself the bad mom award punishment today.

You are doing a great job!

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