Mothers, we need to give ourselves a break. We spend so much time and energy agonizing over every little thing. We spend countless hours worrying about all the things we could be missing that we rarely see what is right in front of us. We carry around this needless guilt and anxiety that brings an unnecessary heaviness to parenting. We compare ourselves to others. Are we doing enough for our children, are we enough?
But here is the thing. When we send them off to college (or don’t) or when they walk down the aisle (or don’t), it won’t matter whether we breast- or bottle-fed them. It won’t matter how long they slept in a crib or whether they brought their blankie to kindergarten, hidden secretly in their backpack in case they needed that extra whiff of courage. No one will remember how long we let them have a pacifier or exactly what age they were when they took their first step. We will struggle to recall why we spent hours researching how to make a child stop sucking his thumb.
We surrender all of this energy agonizing over whether we should go back to work or stay home with them just a little while longer because you read a study once that said children whose mothers stay home become more well-adjusted adults and what if, just WHAT IF, we aren’t doing every single little thing possible to give our child the best chance in life? We worry so much about others judging our parenting decisions but at the end of the day we are our worst enemy. We are the ones putting pressure on ourselves to live up to expectations that simply cannot be met.
And here’s the thing. All of these things we do for our children when they are little doesn’t matter because they will not remember. And you may say, yes, but I will. I will remember all the things I did for them. So we keep pushing ourselves and pushing ourselves in the quest to do it all. But it isn’t really about us, is it?
All your children really need is for us to be happy. They want someone to interact with them and love them. They want to feel safe and secure. They don’t care if they have the trendiest stroller or attend the most prestigious preschool. They won’t remember all the Mommy and Me classes that we enrolled in because we saw pictures of our friend’s kid in a class and felt like a lesser parent because we didn’t have them registered for anything by 18 months of age.
No, little of this will matter in the end. All these years we spend stressing over every tiny thing, we won’t get these years back. We are so hard on ourselves that we rarely stop to enjoy this life we’ve created. When our kids look back on their childhood, they will only see the big picture.
I know someday I will look back and want a do-over. I will want to start from the beginning and soak up every single moment I have with them. And I will struggle to remember why I ever stressed about this in the first place.