Am I Doing this Right? Confessions of an Anxious Mommy

Is there a right way to parent? We all wonder that question as we strive to bring up our kids. Confessions of an anxious mommy.

Am I Doing This Right?

Confessions of an Anxious Mommy

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.
...if we’re being rationale, 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. Am I Doing This Right? Confessions of an Anxious MommyThis 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.”

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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 way to parent? Parenting is one of the most natural things in the world so naturally we should be natural at it.

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:

  •        Self-doubts
  •        Career
  •        Social media

Self-Doubts

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!

Career

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.

Social Media

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!

Is there a right way to parent? Confessions of an anxious mommy.

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

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Join the discussion 34 Comments

  • Maria says:

    Great advice and great article overall. I, too, can be very judgey even when I try hard not to be! Also on the on the opposite end where I envy others as well. So many things to worry about being a mom and the two I listed needn’t be on the list right? lol Thanks for sharing! Will share on my pinterest! I don’t have very many followers since I just started, but I think this will be helpful for other moms out there! =)

    • emmywy says:

      Thanks, Marie! I’ve been doing some “soul searching” lately by learning more about my enneagram type (2) – it’s been very enlightening and sometimes painful because it hits so close to home! It’s hard learning things about myself, like being critical and manipulative and prideful without realizing it. But it’s something I have to do to continue to grow. Thanks for mommying with me!!

  • Mrs G says:

    What a great write up! I think the majority of mommies have asked themselves this question. Peace and understanding come with experience. Also love your pinterest pins!

    • emmywy says:

      Thanks, girl. You’re blog looks great btw! Yes, I (obviously) struggle with this mommy-anxiety. But it is helpful to remind myself it’s normal, expected, and I’m not alone in it. Cheers!

  • Stephanie says:

    This is a topic that needs so much more attention than it gets! I get anxious about finding the independent/watch over them/safety balance. I feel like they’re not safe unless I’m right there but at 8 and 9, the oldest deserve a tiny bit of freedom, right?

    • emmywy says:

      There’s no way to be the perfect parent, as we all know. And the whole point of parenting is to raise responsible adults. BUT it’s still so hard for us mommies to let go and let our little ones make mistakes, get hurt, and find their own ways. There’s a balance, and I’m sure you will find it with your kiddos!

  • Kelly says:

    I love this! Like you said, it’s difficult to feel like we are doing anything write when you are comparing yourself to what appears to be a “Super Mom” on Instagram. (Chances are her child has a break down RIGHT after she snaps the perfect picture! Ha! Been there!) We just need to do the best with what we have. Thanks for reminding us mommas of this!

    • Yes, it’s baaaad! I know it’s wrong to feel that way, but I do it all the same. I just have to remember that we’re all sinners fallen short of the glory of God, no matter if they look sexy on Instagram or their kids always have the cutest outfits. Lol Yet I will always strive to look sexy on Instagram…

  • Loved reading this and I can relate all to well! For some reason my anxiety was 1000x worse with my third baby than it ever was with my first or second. I’m not sure why, though. I never even thought to relate that back to Jesus speaking of the Pharisees, and it’s an awesome comparison!

  • some times, I feel like I’m failing miserably, and I’m probably doing some serious permanent damage… but some times it’s ok… lol!

    • Sounds like you’re a normal mommy! Haha Yes, but I firmly believe in the phrase “You are the best parent for your child”. I believe the Lord gives each child to their parents because His plan is higher than our ability to screw up our kids. Hang in there, mama!

  • Emily! I love this post. I am going to Pin this and reread when I need it. This is just amazing. I love how you tie in scripture! It’s so important to remember we are not alone in this journey and when things get tough or aren’t going how I “think” it should be going, I remember God decided that this baby and I belong together! I really love how you talked about being surprised as parents. I do this all the time, and I’m going to try and pray that I can view these moments as parenting opportunities! Thank you so much for this post!

    • What a sweet comment, thank you so much! It’s not always easy to treasure those moments, especially since our lives are crazy (you’re a momboss, you know what I mean!). And especially when things aren’t going “according to plan” (because in “the plan” there are no problems ever, right?). Take heart, fellow mama! 🙂

  • Jessie says:

    Loved this. You are absolutely right!! I think that when we are super self doubting, it takes away from our kids. We need to be confident that what we’re doing for our kids is right for them and us. Great read.

    • Exactly, self-doubt takes away from everything in our lives! Today I heard the best quote from @thepoppyandpineco – “comparison is the thief of joy”. How true is that?? Our joy is found when we realize our true selves found in Christ and NOT in all the other “perfect” mamas out there. Thanks for reading, Jessie!

  • Love this! Great advice. I am always trying to be the perfect mom and everyday I feel like I am failing. I know logically I am not…I just do my best and that’s all I can do.

    • Haha raise your hand if you’ve never had perfectmomsyndrom *crickets* We’ve all been there, and visit again and again. You need others to speak truth into your life, too, Stacey! Don’t feel you need to do it alone. It takes convincing, and I mean real thoughtful words of encouragement, from others around you for those doubts to start to leave. I’ve recently been studying my enneagram type, and it is my tendency to try and shoulder everything onto myself without asking for help. Well, it’s okay to tell the people in your life, “hey, I’m struggling, and I really need you to tell me what I’m doing right.” You are the best mama for your kiddo, no matter what! Embrace that truth and let it become who you are. God bless!

  • I was never anxious before getting pregnant, but after finding out that I was pregnant and delivering, I’ve found out that I do have anxiety, it was never prominent before and went unnoticed. I think all of us moms are going to have times where we doubt ourselves in our parenting methods, it’s only natural. We are not perfect, but we can strive to be the best parents that we possibly can be, and we just have to be okay with doing our best.

    • If you’ve ever read “Bringing up Bébé” by Pamela Druckerman, you know it is an American construct to be obsessed with parenting. Our culture wants to put parenting into a box when really it’s every parent’s job to raise their children the way they feel is right. Who can argue with that? You’re doing great! Checked out your blog btw and love it!

  • Caroline says:

    Parenting can be so challenging – thanks for sharing this.

  • Veronika says:

    Yes! Social media, that double edged sword. Great to just know I’m not the only mom who feels this. ❤️

  • I am of two minds with social media. Yes I agree it can cause unnecessary anxiety but it can also be great motivation. I believe that is what would be referred to as a double edged sword lol.

    • Exactly, it’s a powerful tool for both purposes! That’s where being really rooted in who you are is so important. Without that, you’re going to be pulled into the desire to envy other people and think bad thoughts about yourself. Thanks for reading!

  • Dawnmarie says:

    We mommas –and poppas — need to be stronger in our self belief as parents. If someone is concerned that they might not be doing it right in the first place, then they are already aware and probably doing thee best that they can. 🙂

    • That’s right, being self-aware is pretty crucial. You have to recognize the parts about yourself that could use improvement while also appreciating your gifts and strengths. It’s all about balance, and we have to help each with that!

  • Shelley says:

    YES! I still struggle with anxiety and my daughter is two. This is totally where our “I can’t be the only one who…” blog feature came from… anxiety! I found myself questioning what I was doing all day and wondering if others were doing the same.

    • It makes all the difference to know you’re not alone. As moms, we need to support each other rather than make each other feel badly for not doing all the right things. Right now I’m feeling that mom guilt because AGAIN I missed going to MOPS this morning. But my little one had a rough night, and the two of us needed to sleep. There are reasons why it’s for the best, but that doesn’t quiet that little voice in the back of my head saying, “You’re a mom, you’re supposed to have it together! Get it together! What must those other moms be saying about you?!”
      Well I know the moms who love me are going to understand, as I would understand if the tables were turned. We have to give ourselves as much grace as we give others, at least! Love to you and your family! XOXO

  • Giulia says:

    I love it, great post. My baby is almost 1 year old…I didn’t know it would have been such a challenge to be a mother. I’am super worried every time but I just try to do my best with him. I hope I’m doing a good job! Thanks for the advice…

    • You are doing a good job because you’re doing the best you can do! Of course this is not an excuse to stop trying to grow as a parent, that’s also the eternal quest. This is talking about being a peace with who God created you to be as a mother. He knows the struggles you have and the pressure a mom has. He is using this time to make you into a better wife, mother, and human being. And He’s using you to make your child into the person He has thought about since before the creation of the world. Hang in there!

  • Jenn says:

    It’s so sad the anxiety makes us question every single thing in our lives.

  • Amber says:

    Speaking as a mom who wants to raise kids to love the Lord in a world that most definitely does not love the Lord, I often feel anxiety that I am doing enough to show them God’s grace, God’s love, and their need for his salvation. Especially since I feel like I spend 95% of my day just keeping them alive! 😉 Thank you for this great post addressing the anxieties of moms!

  • Robbi says:

    So true, when we get distracted by Satan’s lies and social media, instead of focusing on Christ, we often let self doubt creep in.

  • E says:

    I ask myself this question so many times! I’m always afraid I’ve ruined my child nutritionally or that their sleep is awful even though I offer fruits and vegetables and try very hard to stick to an age-appropriate sleep schedule. But I am so encouraged by what you said regarding self-parenting children. I shouldn’t be surprised when my child’s sin nature is showing, they are little sinners being raised by big sinners – there is no way either my children or I can be perfect!

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