I didn’t realize that when my first baby was sort of pushed and pulled from out of me, and I held her in my arms — from that moment on — I was expected to do everything right. I had to be perfect. Because only perfection would keep this baby safe, happy, on the “right” developmental pace, and healthy. Everyone was suddenly expecting me to do it all right all the time.
That was the unwritten contract I had unknowingly signed when they said, “she’s a girl!” And my fat jaundiced baby who wouldn’t nurse for the first few days because I wasn’t doing it right already, needed a perfect mom who did everything right.
My first didn’t sleep through the night until she stopped nursing at 11 months. Because I wasn’t doing naps and bedtime right. And obviously she stopped nursing “early,” because I wasn’t doing that right either. She was late to walk and talk too. I took her to all the baby movement and singing classes and countless baby playdates, but I just wasn’t doing it quite right.
Then my second baby came. This time I knew what was expected of me. Right! She nursed right away! Yessss! But she nursed too often because I wasn’t doing it right in a different way. And then she slept with me (and not even once in her crib) because I couldn’t get sleeping right again. And I didn’t read to her as often as I did with my first, because I didn’t have time to do that right either.
And I can go on and on about all the ways I have done it wrong. And I can tell you about the days, weeks, and years of tears and frustration while trying to figure it out — that right way to do things. But I have a feeling you’ve already been there.
And maybe you’ve known this for a while, and I’m arriving to the party late as usual, but I’ve been wasting all this time looking for something that doesn’t exist. Doing it right isn’t a real thing. It’s just not real!
What is real and doable is our way — the way that works for our family of four. And I’m pretty certain our way could be more clear to me if I could just shut out all the regurgitated and tired advice shoveled my way via social media, blogs, articles, and the lady at the grocery store who couldn’t wait to tell me the better way to do that one thing.
And I’m out. I’m done! I’m not going to try to to do it right anymore. I’m going to follow my own intuition about parenting, not the Seven Things I Need to Change Today to Have More Grateful Children.
My children will see how to be imperfect and kind and silly. Instead of a mom trying to figure out how to do it right, they will see one who can grow, change course, and apologize when doing it wrong means doing someone wrong. I will be someone who gets it right sometimes and sometimes gets it wrong too. Just like everyone else, whether they’re a mom or not.