Before I had a baby, I thought I knew a lot about parenting. Now, one year into the game I know that I basically know nothing about parenting. Truthfully, I knew a lot about childcare. I knew how to take care of a baby and I knew lots about how children think and behave. I knew how to address common issues. But actual parenting? I had no idea.
I think parenting is one of those things where it's easy to judge and think you know best until you're actually living it. It's easy to think that you'll always make the best choice. It's easy to think that you'll never make a mistake. But then you're there. Your baby is screaming all the time, you haven't slept in days. You can barely think straight much less know whether you're doing a good job.
Eventually, things change but the parenting gig doesn't get easier. You're constantly worrying about if your child is meeting milestones, if they're falling behind, or if there's more you could be doing for them. You second guess yourself. Did you feed your kids enough vegetables today? Did you read enough? Should you have done more creative things? Maybe they needed more time outdoors.
Parenting is an endless journey of making decisions and figuring things out. It's constantly a balancing act of everything you need and want to do in a day. I'm guessing I'll never truly figure it all out. As soon as one thing is resolved, a new challenge arises that I feel totally unprepared for. But here's how I know I'm doing okay:
My baby is happy.
Maybe he's not happy all the time. He cries. Somedays he cries a whole lot. But overall, he's happy. He smiles when I pick him up out of his crib in the morning. He laughs when we play together. He's happy to be here with us.
I am happy.
Somedays are really, really long. I've cried more than once from pure exhaustion. It's not easy getting everything done in a day that needs to get done. I've felt like I'm failing more than a few times. But when I think about my life before I had my son, I can't imagine ever going back. I can't think of a time when I was this happy. I love being a mom. I am so amazed at how lucky I am to have my son and even though I don't always feel like I deserve it, I am thrilled to get the chance to be worthy of this blessing.
We're all figuring this thing out one step at a time. If you feel overwhelmed or like you aren't doing things right, you're far from alone. But your baby doesn't care if you're perfect, they just care that you're you and you're there for them. If you have love and you have happiness, you have everything you need to make this work.
Some days it will be a struggle and when that happens, reach for the happiness. Think about all the moments that make this crazy journey worthwhile. Time is going to fly by and we all have to make the most of it. As much as possible, try not to spend these precious days worrying about all the little things. You're doing a great job and you deserve every bit of this wonderful gift of motherhood.