Parenting is, without a doubt, the most difficult balancing act I’m ever going to take on. There are so many ways to raise small beings into their full human selves, and it’s difficult not to question every decision made.
I’m not talking about breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding, independent sleeping vs. co-sleeping, organic vs. everyday food, or regular bedtimes vs. winging the sleep schedule. I’m not even talking about the more controversial decisions, like circumcised vs. uncircumcised, vaccinated or unvaccinated, or sleep-training vs. cry-it out. We all make our own choices in those realms, and whether we all agree or not on the same choices, I think it’s safe to say that every parent has the intent to make the best decisions that they know how to for their children.
The thing that I want to dig into here is how to raise humans. Confident, happy, healthy, productive humans. We are complex emotional beings, and to add to that layer, no two of us are alike. And while we love our children equally, we might not respond to each child in the exact same way.
I’m sure that as individuals, we probably want something slightly different for our kids as human beings. When I think of what I want for my kids, it’s actually not so straightforward: I want them to feel confident, happy, and and like they are unique and valuable – while simultaneously being aware that they are not the centre of the universe. I want them to be hardworking and driven, but to not forget how to take time out to appreciate the small moments in life. I want them to learn how to follow their instincts and put their own needs first, but I also want them to develop a sense of empathy, and to be kind to others. I want them to be polite, to have manners, and to know when it is their place to speak, but I also want them to be able to question authority and speak up uncensored – because authority is not always right. Can you see how fucking complicated all of this is?? That feels like it could be a whole bag of positive reinforcement combined with straight up yelling and swearing to keep them in check – depending on the situation, and depending on the kid.
My intentions are good, but frankly, I always question whether mommy looks batshit crazy to my kids. When they act out, I feel like I’m always walking the line of strict discipline vs. having compassion for the fact that they are little humans who are built to test boundaries, and still learning how to deal with their own emotions. I am human myself, and struggle with consistency. Has it been a day where both kids have tested me to my limits, and also a day that I’m spent from work and not having slept a lot the night before? Well, in that case, I’m probably going to have zero patience, and yelling is the inevitable result. Or, has it been a day where the kids have both behaved and have put in their best efforts, and I’m also well-rested and have had a smooth day? In that case, each kid will be praised for every good decision made. Or, the most likely scenario – the day is going to go somewhere in between the two extremes, and each action and reaction will be unique, and hopefully, the best action for my kids. On some days, I might make the wrong choices. I certainly hope, however, that one day, my kids will know how hard I tried as a mother.
This parenting business is not for the faint of heart. With the number of choices that we have to make each day that will ultimately shape our kids, isn’t it safe to say that there is no right or wrong way to do this job? With the polar differences in our kids’ personalities, isn’t it safe to say that what works for one won’t work for the other? With the unique situations that present challenges to us and our kids every day, isn’t it safe to say that what worked yesterday won’t necessarily work today? While these statements may seem obvious, they can be easy to forget when we are in the thick of things, frazzled, and potentially questioning our own judgement. (Or, heaven forbid, if someone else decides it’s appropriate to question your judgement). So, take it easy on yourselves parents. You’re all doing great. We may not do things the same way, nor should we. The only way to go forward in this insane world of parenting is as a village of support.