Like so many other mothers of young children, I’d like the world to think I have it all together.
I would like my friends, both in person and through social media, to think that I always follow what is recommended by my pediatrician, as well as the sound advice of friends or even bloggers.
I want people to think that my kids only eat organic meals, their needs are always immediately met so they never cry, and my house is always spotless in case you want to stop over for a spontaneous visit.
Those things almost never happen at the same time.
It’s not easy for me to say (or write) about my imperfections — or to deal with that nagging guilt that comes with being a mom.
There’s two of them and only one of me so sometimes I’m more impatient than I want to be. I feel badly that I can’t pick up the baby as quickly as I want to when she’s crying, because I’m cleaning up the cup of juice my toddler spilled over in the kitchen.
Sometimes I feel inadequate, just because I can’t make my son’s birthday cake look as good as the one some other mom made and posted on Pinterest.
So to clear my head from parenting guilt, I always remember this:
Whatever you are doing to get through your day as a parent, is the right thing to do. And if someone gives you advice on how to solve a problem and you try it and it doesn’t work for you, or your feel uncomfortable with it, stop what you’re doing immediately.
And never feel like a quitter.
Some many times moms tell me stories of something they tried with their children, and when they’re telling the story, they say something like “and he was crying and then I started to cry too because I felt so bad for him.”
As soon as you find yourself saying something along these lines, then you know whatever it is you’re trying out probably isn’t worth it — both for you and your baby.
Often, we get so caught up with friends parenting advice, or what people say on the internet (what I’m doing right now, ironically) that we ignore our parental instincts.
Who does feeling guilty help? Not you. Not your kids.
If you didn’t wash your hair today, or you forgot to brush your kids teeth, or you went to bed without loading the dishwasher, that’s OK. (I’m now learning.) We’ve all been there.
If you can only get to some of your tasks in a day and not others, that’s the best you could do.
You’re doing the best you can and there’s no reason to feel guilty about that. And even if you didn’t give it your all today — say you’re just too exhausted. — tomorrow is another day.
Doing your best doesn’t mean being perfect.
Simply put, it means trying. Even trying and “failing.”
A new mom came in to my shop the other day and asked me if I drink coffee while I’m nursing. I felt bad that she thought she had to completely cut out caffeine because people scared her into thinking her baby wouldn’t sleep if she did.
I said, “Of course I do. How else would I survive parenting two kids and working full time on little to no sleep?”
I looked her right in her eyes and said “If you need a cup of coffee to make it through the day, then have one.”
She said back to me: “Thank you. There could be a hundred reasons why he doesn’t sleep. I’ll have a double.”
Tiffany Rivera is a greaterpatchogue.com contributor and the founder of Patchogue Moms on Facebook. She lives in East Patchogue and works in Patchogue Village.