If you want to experience a massive mindfuck, become a parent. It’s by far the hardest thing that I have had to do. At times, it’s the loneliest. The loneliness usually hits in the early hours of the morning when I’ve spent hours on end trying to lull Ash to sleep, or through the day when I’m riding through her crankiness because she’s tired or unwell or bored or for whatever reason. It’s during these times that I am faced with all sorts of thoughts going through my head, that revolve around one central theme: self doubt. I’m actually quite surprised that I haven’t lost my shit already.
They say that when you become a parent, you never stop worrying. I am starting to really see this come about. Never before have I second guessed every decision that I make. Being a first time parent, I share the same anxieties as others of not wanting to stuff up my child. Being a psychologist, I also fall into the trap of placing high expectations of myself to know exactly what to do and to just do it. And do it well. And get the results. So I don’t look like a failure. The perfect time for me to reflect, over analyse and question my parenting skills is often in the wee hours of the morning when I have yet to go to bed. Oh what fun sleep deprivation brings!
I don’t strive to be the perfect parent, I am happy with good enough. However, I want to do it properly, and be the best mum I can be. I see my job as a parent is to help Ash to feel secure, and to develop a toolbox of skills to help her navigate through life. I expect her to make mistakes (and to really stuff up at times), but I want to help set her up in a way that she will have the skills to be able to navigate through these situations effectively and come out stronger on the other end; to be able to handle situations with confidence, faith, dignity and respect. I want her to have good relationships, to be compassionate, to be fair, and to be kind. I want her to feel secure and happy and to enjoy the company and the existence of the people who surround her. So I am always thinking about what she’s learning, how this will contribute to the bigger picture, and what I can do to help. At her ripe old age of 9 months!
It’s interesting because it is a job where you are constantly being judged on your decisions. People out there always have something to say. There are times when I feel vulnerable and I do take judgey comments personally. It’s because parenting is a job that means the world to me, I am trying my best, I want to do it well, I put in continuous effort and there are no breaks in between. I suspect most parents out there feel the same. We are all vulnerable.
What makes my journey a whole lot smoother is the kindness of people who take the time to just randomly say nice comments to me. Those who, out of the blue, take the time to check in and send a compliment my way. It makes all the difference to me and is enough to put a spring back in my step, a smile on my face and some reassurance that I am doing alright out there. So I just want to say thank you. It really warms my heart and it may not seem like much, but it is.
The world of parenting is brutal. You have mothers hating on other mothers, everyone has got an opinion about what you should or should not be doing, and people get all judgey about what other parents choose to do or not do in raising their children. But ultimately, every parent is experiencing the same thing. At whatever stage they’re in, they will be worried, they will be anxious about whether or not a decision was the right one, they will be going through the guilts and the massive mindfuck that is parenting. Rather than offering up opinions, advice or suggestions, consider just saying 5 simple words: you’re doing an awesome job.