Doubting Your Parenting Abilities : How You Know You’re On The Right Track

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My short one came out of her room the other night, talking about how she only had one pair of jeans and couldn’t find her leggings. I asked her if she had gone through her clothes lately to see what fit and didn’t, and she exclaimed she did (she didn’t) and actually got teary eyed.

In reality, it’s about the time of year where I buy her a few pairs of jeans, some decent tops. Then in the spring, she gets tank tops and a few shorts. Then around her June birthday, she gets clothing from her grandmother (who picks out really good stuff). We’re not destitute, my child does have some leggings (they’re just too bright colored! Not cool enough for her punk look she has going on) and she has jeans, somewhere.

Yet that night, I sat there after she went to bed and beat myself up. My god, my child only has one pair of jeans that she wants to wear! She had a growth spurt and didn’t have anything to wear! I must suck as a parent. Then I thought about how I picked on her for her part in her hair the other day. I told her she looked like Avril Lavigne, instead of remembering how we chuckled about it, I worried that maybe I had hurt her feelings. After that I worried about how cooped up she has been since it’s winter. I felt like a bad mom because I hadn’t done anything outside with her (despite her thinking she’s too cool to play in the snow).

It was a long road down into a worry filled well of self doubt. Then I remembered what I’ve told numerous other mothers, and reminded myself that I need to take my own words to heart.

If you worry about how good of a parent you are, you’re fine. It’s when you stop worrying, stop caring, that’s when you’re in trouble.

A lot of my friends have children now, and a lot of them are reaching ages where they voice discontent with their parents. Time and time again, I see my fellow moms on facebook beating themselves up over whether or not they’re a good mom. Hell, I’ve even seen a couple dads do it. Our kids whine, our kids complain, and we look at other parents and compare ourselves to them. Are we good enough?

We wonder if not buying our kids the newest tablet makes us a bad parent because “all my friends have one! Why can’t I?!” We wonder that the new tablet we did buy our kids makes us a bad parent, as we’re being bombarded left and right by the news and other parents about our children’s time spent on electronics. Our kids don’t seem to have the right looking clothes, or the right sizes (damn those growth spurts!) or the right BRAND of shoes. They don’t have the newest gaming console, or maybe they do? Does that make us bad parents because they’re spoiled? We had to ground our kids for not doing their chores, and we can hear them crying in their rooms. Did we make the right choice? Our kids don’t have set chores and we all help out, are we ruining our children?

Noticing a trend here?

We all worry, and in this current day and age, we are blasted with articles about different ways to raise our children. Every time we turn around, we have social media posts from other moms and dads about how their way is the best way, some of which blatantly say those of us who parent in a different way are damning our children. The fact is, is that my generation, our generation is has so much information about how to parent thrown at us, we struggle a lot with double guessing our own decisions.

I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon, but at the end of the day we need to realize something. We need to realize that we worry about our parenting because we’re trying to do our best by our children. I’m sure we’ll all make mistakes, we’ll all look back and regret some of the choices we’ve made raising our children.. but that’s what makes us good parents. Worrying at night if you did an okay job, proves you’re on the right track.

It’s when you stop worrying, that you have a problem. When you give up on parenting the best way you know how. It’s when you stop caring, that you’re not doing right by your kids. We just need to remember that when we’re beating ourselves up over things, actions, choices, and such.

So to all those parents who haven’t yet purchased the new Xbox.. or who did! You rock! To all those with kids who swear up and down that they have NO clothes to wear! Hang in there! To all those parents who kids are grounded because they acted like an ass.. you’re good! To those parents who just discovered a mountain of clothes in their child’s closet! Buckle in, you got this!

To all those parents, who collapse at the end of each day, wondering if they’re doing a good enough job at raising their kids, relax. You’re doing great!

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Choices

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Everyone is always so surprised at what is inside my head.  Not necessarily my thought process or the majority of opinions, a good chunk of my coworkers and friends have gotten used to my outbursts and off the wall comments.  I guess for a stereotype, liberal, single mother of one, once divorced and with a Chronic Illness, I’m dead on.  Yet one thought, one opinion or rather personal choice (or in this case, want) always throws the ideas that people base me off of right out the fucking window.

You tell me what you see?  I’m 26 years old with a 5 year old.  I’ve already been divorced, and literally the only thing that keeps me out of work besides the kiddo being sick is a straight up hospitalization.  I’ve worked for every scrap I have and bought my own house by the time I was 23 and have done my best to earn enough money to give my child a nice life.  I love work and strive for more mental stimulation.  I started college just because my brain felt… dumb.  I’ve worked in almost every field and eventually I’d like to open my own business or get a higher up management position…..

[Now here’s what throws people off, this has gotten me raised eyebrows since my daughter was born, and was reiterated when I was talking with my co-worker last month.]

… if I have to continue working.

When I was pregnant with Noodle, I sat down with my ex-husband over dinner one night.  He wasn’t paying attention so I threw a packet of crackers at him.

“A mother is supposed to be at home for her children.  I want to stay at home with her.”

Much to my surprise he was more than okay with that.  So I was a Stay at Home Mom until I bought my house and got a job (my marriage was deteriorating and the end was ever so apparently near).  While my brain was dying (hence, starting college), I enjoyed staying at home, teaching my daughter and taking care of my (then) apartment.  I liked having dinner ready for my husband when he got home and having family dinners together avoiding the globs of pureed peas my daughter loved to fling.

It was the way it was supposed to be.

When I started working again, at first it wasn’t too bad.  Noodle spent time at three different friend’s houses, all three of which I trust with my own life.  They all were more like extended family, so it didn’t bother me much, beyond my selfish reasoning.  It hurt to hear about what she had learned to do each day, it bothered me that I wasn’t the one taking her to the park or to a birthday party.  Granted my friends were wonderful enough to take photos so I could still see her antics, but it bothered me.

Then.  Then, I got a full time job during normal hours (I always worked 2nd/3rd shift).  Then I got a second job (the spring before last).  So I entered Noodle in daycare.  This daycare is the same one she’s at now, she went to preschool there and now Kindergarten.  She’s thriving and each day it’s more apparent that I have a very intelligent, vibrant little girl.  However, now that I’m back to working full time during the day, I don’t get to spend that much time with her.  A mere 45 minutes in the morning, and 2.5 hours at night (I’m a strict bedtime mom, we get up too early to do otherwise).  Monday through Friday.  I spend more time with my co-workers than my kiddo, and she spends more time with her teachers (whom I love) than me.  Such is the life of a working mother.

Do I believe that working mothers are horrible?  Oh far from it, especially single mothers.  It takes a strong woman to be able to balance work and home life and survive both equally.  I don’t look down on career women or moms that choose to work for whatever reason.  My point is, I just wish I didn’t have too.

I was raised with a stay at home mom, when we became school age, she got a job during the time we were at school. (OH MY GOD, my mother worked AT MY SCHOOL.  Talk about getting double the punishment, her desk was right outside the principals office… had to walk right past her if I got in trouble.) Then she’d come home afterwards and spend time with us.  So naturally that’s what I grew up basing life on.  So when I started my own family, that’s how I wanted to run my family.  Things just didn’t work out that way.

Ryan and I have talked about it, especially after he saw the “change” in me when I took the 5 day vacation and stayed at home.  If I had my way, I’d stay at home and work part time (because frankly, my brain is not wired to stay at home permanently).  I’d work my old hours and be home when my kid was, so not only could I take care of her but so I could take care of my house and cook (better).  That’s what I enjoy doing, frankly I could give a crap less about a career that I’ll spend time at for the rest of my life.  We’ve decided if Ryan can get a job making a substantial amount more than me, and we are sure that it’s secure that I would drop down to part time, or find a part time job. (The chances of that happening in THIS economy is slim to none, so I’m doing what I do best and trying to excel and hopefully someday move up in my current job.)

That’s what throws people off.  Especially people that don’t know that I was already “At Home”.  I think my whole “stance on feminist ideals” doesn’t help either.  What people fail to realize though, feminism isn’t about forcing women into a career or whatever.  It’s about giving women a CHOICE.  A choice to stay at home, a choice to have a career (and be paid fair for her work).  My choice (or want, like I stated earlier) is to stay at home and take care of my house and family.  That’s what’s right for my family, and if I can, I will.  (But again, Economy, so hello career haha).  I guess I’ll just deal with the raised eyebrows, I like catching people off guard anyway.  It makes life that much more fun.