The first time I thought those words, “Am I doing this right?” was in the hospital after Genny was born. I was trying to nurse her. It hurt like crazy, the position felt unnatural, and I was afraid she was going to give up and start to cry. Or I would.
AM I DOING THIS RIGHT? I mentally cried to the heavens.
It shouldn’t be this hard, right?
Since those two nights at the hospital, I have thought and said (and cried) those words hundreds of times. It feels to us as mommies, new or veteran, that this parenting thing should be easier. Of course, if we’re being rational, we will say, “Parenting is the most difficult job on the planet.” But deep down we don’t truly believe that because we think we should be better at it than we already are.
This is speaking to the biggest insecurities we feel as human beings. Parenting is one of the most natural things in the world, so naturally we should be natural at it. When we don’t live up to this [unrealistic] expectation about ourselves, we immediately attribute it to our own inadequacy. That’s when those words, “Am I doing this right?” pop up.
The answer to the question “It shouldn’t be this hard, right?” is a simple but discomforting “yes, it actually is.”
Did you know how many different practices there are for cutting the umbilical cord?
Why is parenting hard?
When I feel like I’m not good enough in my life roles (which happens alot), I think about when the Pharisees were plotting to kill Jesus. He knew it and was telling the disciples about all the things they would need to go through. All the while, He knew what He would be killed by crucifixion. But He still said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
We are supposed to have trouble in this world, and parenting is included in that. No one ever rightly claimed that raising a tiny sinful human being with its own thoughts and feelings and motives was an easy task! So first take comfort in knowing that it is normal for you to feel this way.
Paul Tripp talks in his series Getting to the Heart of Parenting (watch excerpt of the video series here) about how we all as parents wish for “kids who don’t need parenting”. We’re surprised when our two year old eats paint after being told not to. We can’t believe it when our three year old throws his spaghetti onto the floor with a devilish smile.
We shouldn’t be surprised, but we are. Because we are expecting our children to be self-parenting, and every day we hope that they are getting closer and closer to the day when they will not need us to parent them anymore. I think that’s why grandparents love being grandparents so much. They don’t need to “parent”, they just get to be “grand”, fun, likable. The truth is our children are sinful just as we are, and they need parenting, control, and direction in their lives.
You aren’t failing them when they disobey or make bad decisions; rather, these are more opportunities for you to speak to the heart of their actions and behavior.
Is There a Right and a Wrong Way to Parent?
There is not a right or a wrong way to parent. Yes, there are countless sub-topics when we say parenting (such as discipline, nutrition, sleep training, privileges, etc., etc.), and yes there are the basic needs we must meet (food, shelter, comfort). But parenting is a vast realm of choices and actions with the purpose of raising up children into responsible adults.
Not all styles of parenting are fitting for every child, not all methods of discipline are fitting for every child. This is why you are the best parent for your child. No matter the mistakes you make, you are still the best suited person for your child.
How do I know that? Jeremiah 29:11 says – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” You are part of the plan for your child’s future. You were the one chosen to parent, love, and sustain your child. Whether by blood, adoption, or circumstance, you are the person your child needs.
What causes unneeded anxiety?
Mamas have enough to deal with without having to battle their own insecurities! Some of the top sources of anxiety for mamas include:
- Social media
When you’re responsible for another human being, your standards for yourself quadruple. Your desire to be the best for your child motivates you towards comparisons in all aspect of life. This desire permeates your parenting like juice through a paper towel. No matter how hard you try to stop it, it’s going to bleed through. At the same time, you can’t meet all the expectations you have set, and you are left feeling inadequate and doubting your ability to parent your child.
I am here so often I have frequent-flyer miles! Doubt inevitably pours in when you are relying on your own ability to be the best because guess what? It’s impossible to be perfect. You’re going to blow it sometimes, and that’s okay!
The modern-day question all mommies have to face is “Do I stay home or do I pursue my career?” Answer: Staying home is also a career. No, the pay sucks. And yes, the hours do, too. But no matter how you answer that question, you need to keep in mind that simple truth: You are still the best mommy for your child. Regardless of whether you’re there for every naptime or you work 8-5, you are still the best parent for your particular child, and you are doing the best you can do.
Preteens aren’t the only ones influenced by their friends on social media. Mommies are just as affected by seeing their friends and colleagues, looking so put together on that outing to the beach, and oh my gosh she just had a baby, how is she wearing a bikini already?? And talking about their life-changing insert-experience-here and you’re thinking, “The last time I went out, I still had the energy to do my hair and makeup in the same night”.
Just like we tell the younger generation, take a step back from your comparisons and realize that these people are putting their best foot forward. Like on a first date, everyone is wearing deodorant, has brushed their teeth, spent godless amount of time on their appearance, and has carefully analyzed “Do I put this out there, or no? How will this be received? Should I say this? No, that sounds weird. I hope this person sees this. What will she think? I hope she thinks this.”
Don’t give other people the power to make you feel bad about yourself as a parent. There have been plenty of times that Ryan and I have made a decision about Genesis, and then I saw another mom share a video on Facebook with all the reasons why we shouldn’t have made that choice. Make your own educated decisions, have an argument for why you did that can hold water, and don’t care what other people do!
Side Note: Watch out for the temptation to become the judgey one as well. Again, I raise my hand sheepishly because all mommies are judgey about other mommies! It’s a diabolical oxymoron that we can both not have faith in ourselves and think we are the expert at all things parent. *eyeroll*
You are an incredible mommy who works hard at what she does, and all you can ask of yourself is to try your best.
You are the best parent for your child.
Take a deep breath.
And stick together. Kids grow too fast for mommies to do this alone!
What are some fears and anxieties you have as a mommy? Be honest in this safe space! For me I get anxious that I don’t let Genny cry enough/I let her cry too much, and I’m always worrying that I don’t spend enough quality, one-on-one time with her. Sigh.
Share your own “confession” or leave a note of encouragement for your fellow mamas by commenting below!
Love, Emily XOXO