What does parenting success look like, anyway?
You know what I wanted when I was a kid/teenager/young adult? Nope, not fame or fortune or any of that. I wanted to raise a family. To grow up, get a career going, and have some kids and hopefully do an ok job.
Actually, if I’m being honest, I didn’t want to do “ok”—I wanted to be that mom who had it all figured out and had kids that turned out to be the smartest most well-developed and well-rounded individuals of all time. That was what I wanted.
So here I am, 35, and I have a beautiful little family that I love. But instead of feeling like I “made it,” many days I feel like I am continuing to fail at this parenting gig. I have two boys exactly two years apart, and while I am definitely trying “my best” at all times, someone is always losing in our house when it’s just me and the two of them—I’m not talking about when daddy is home and we are tag-teaming the parenting racket, because there’s more balance there, but when it’s just us three. Just me and my sons. I guess I just need a minute to vent here.
I read, scratch that, obsess about parenting articles. I track my kids’ behaviours against how much they’ve slept, eaten and spent time with all the right people including me. And then at the end of the day when it’s all gone almost perfectly, there are times when one or both of them ends up in a mood. Son number will throw a tantrum because he doesn’t want to go to bed (and his tiredness is the reason he needs to get into bed like NOW) and BOOM all of a sudden there’s yelling (which I promise time and time again, him and me, that I won't do anymore, but I let him push the limits one too many times because I had to get his brother down to sleep too) and BOOM he’s crying, I’m crying, and no. That is not success. It definitely doesn't feel successful.
Or those days when I want everyone to have THE BEST DAY. And sure, we start off with the best intentions. But sometimes those days start with mommy not getting any sleep the night before, and then it’s hard to keep the ol’ chin up because it’s just…so…tiring. And throw a couple of small issues with either kid in there, (like someone doesn’t want any of the 3 different meal options available) and again BOOM everyone’s in tears.
What is success in parenting? How do we measure it? I ask because this is the only job I truly wanted in my life, and yet some days I just don’t see how I could get better because I don’t know where the bar is set. I’m a goals person, and how do you make goals and meet them if you don’t know what is good, great, or exceptional parenting? Does anyone really know?
Will I know if I’ve done “ok” if my sons turn out like the men I love in my life? Will I know before then? Will my kids grow up hating mommy because when they were little mommy lost her temper, and despite best efforts, days just didn’t go right?
I’m heartbroken thinking that there’s a possibility my best isn’t good enough. Because my beautiful boys, they means literally everything to me but (so often my patience literally runs out. All of it.)
Someone tell me if you ever get a feeling of “success” in this job, because right now, I just want to go for a nap and forget that I feel like an epic failure, a lot of the time.
(pic: circa 2015, 9 months pregnant with son #2)