It seems to me that when we become parents others and often ourselves, have the unrealistic expectation that we have it all together. It is as if the moment your child is born you are expected to now be all-knowing, no mistake-making, grown up wonder parent. There have been times that I’ve felt that someone else maybe was expecting way too much from me as a parent when I was a new mom. Literally thinking to myself, “how the fuck would I know that?” Imagine starting a new job and the first day of orientation the boss tells you you’re presenting at the meeting. You don’t even know where break room is let alone ready to present. I saw a quote that got my mind really going on this topic and in a nutshell it said, “while my kids were growing up, I was growing up too.” This literally blew me away.
When I read things that peak my interest it really saturates my mind. I think about it for a long time and I really analyze the words and the meanings. I read this and instantly my brain is in a frenzy of agreeance. I had never even really fully thought about this until reading this. Now, what if when we became parents people treated us as if we are growing up all over again. The kindness, the warmth, the encouragement, the forgiveness, the willingness to hold our hand lovingly through the mistakes and understanding that we are growing up. Most of us became parents in our early twenties, some of us sooner and some later. But at any stage it was new to us. It wasn’t something any class could have prepared us for. We’re still learning about who we are as individuals to be honest. My 9 year old slipped and said “Damn” one day and I thought it was the funniest thing in the world. This is a kid who would pop my hand for saying bad words when he was younger. I laughed like a ten year-old girl. I’m still growing up too, curse words make me laugh. I’m sure some people find this offensive. Whatever.
The judgement parents face is unreal. The standards mothers feel they have to hold themselves to is sometimes too much to bear. Researchers at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Michigan found that out of 475 moms 61% of them felt judged, most of it from family (Klass, 2017). In another article it is shared that 90% of moms and 85% of dads feel that they are being judged by others and even alter their parenting styles when they are in public (Lerner, 2021). Why do we do this to each other? There is no one that can tell you the best way to raise your child. Sure, people can offer suggestions if you ask for it (nobody likes advice they didn’t ask for). I’m not saying guidance isn’t wanted because it is, it’s the judgement that needs to be left at the door. In moments that I feel judged I say to myself, “they don’t pay my bills, they don’t take care of my kids, and they don’t put the food on my table, their opinion of me does not matter.”
I want to enjoy every bit of growing up with my kids. My concern is not what someone else thinks, but what my children think. If my children feel all my love, accept all my mistakes, and continue to love me unconditionally then I’m doing this thing right. I am able to be super honest with myself and admit when I’ve slipped a little bit. Self-reflection is not easy but it’s needed. My oldest son recently mentioned to my father that he felt like mama was in her phone too much, he needed more attention. My dad called me up and let me know. He didn’t pass judgement. He called about his grand baby and offered advice about how to keep him happy. We now have a no cellphone policy and we talk, we increased our movie nights and cuddle time, and we are about to go on dates again. I’m growing up too, I’m thankful for guidance. Even before my mom and I had conversations about my son and his needs, she always says to me “that’s your son and I’m not calling to tell you what to do or how to do it” and that’s what we need as parents, a good sounding board. Growing up is hard. Even at 31, growing up is hard.
Me being able to admit that I’m still growing up isn’t a big deal, it’s a big deal that I can admit that to my kids. We always expect our children to apologize and fix their mistakes as they grow while we overlook our own transgressions. Usually apologizing is hard for me (ask my fiancé) but when I’ve made a mistake when it concerns my child I apologize with no hesitancy. I do this to show them that I am not perfect, that what I want them to learn about life, I’m still learning too. We’re growing up together.
Keep growing up, y’all!
Klass, P. (2017). Most Mothers Feel Judged, With Families Often the Worst Critics. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/07/well/family/most-mothers-feel-judged-with-families-often-the-worst-critics.html
Lerner, C. (2021). Just Say No to Judgment: How Judging Parents Actually Leads to Worse, Not Better, Outcomes for Kids. Zero to Three. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/1716-just-say-no-to-judgment-how-judging-parents-actually-leads-to-worse-not-better-outcomes-for-kids#:~:text=Almost%20all%20parents%20feel%20judged,moms%3B%2045%25%20dads).