Parenting. It’s all about your perspective.
I had what some might call an unrealistic expectation of what motherhood would be like for me. Reflecting on my own memories growing up, I recall a rather picture-perfect childhood. I completely acknowledge that I am extremely fortunate, with two happily married parents who have a stable income and love their children unconditionally. That was all I had to go on when I set my own expectations for parenthood. My perspective.
When I had my first baby, I imagined being just like my mom, but with the advantage of having Pinterest at my fingertips. My mom made it look so easy. So natural. Effortless.
I was sure my path would mirror hers, doting on my children and making delicious home-cooked meals. Working with them to ensure they excelled in school. Cheering them on as they played sports or whatever activity made them happy. Spending quality time together, one big happy family.
And we are one big happy family. I try to balance those goals and live up to the standard I had set for myself. (Except Pinterest. I’ve given up on ever being a Pinterest mom.) My children are happy and healthy. But working to build this life that they will hopefully look back on with fondness has not been easy. Or without stress and heartache.
When I think back on my childhood, I don’t remember my mom being overwhelmed, like I feel as I navigate motherhood. But there was something I hadn’t considered.
There was almost certainly a lens from my mom’s parenting perspective that I wasn’t privy to as a child that I had never considered before I became a parent myself. I’m sure she was stressed. About making the right choices. About dividing her time. About money. About not putting too much pressure on her children. But I didn’t know that. She shielded me from that. So, I went into motherhood with that perspective and only reflecting on the wonderful memories she poured her life into providing for me.
But that’s an impossible standard to set for yourself as a parent.
Things happen that are out of your control. No matter how prepared you are. I now understand that no matter how many “right” decisions you make in life, nothing is perfect, and everyone will likely experience some roadblocks in life. And that’s ok. That’s part of your story. It’s part of why you get to give advice when you’re old. Wisdom. Experience. How you overcame challenges.
And yet, as I try to put myself in the viewpoint of my own children, am I shielding them from the stresses of life just like my mom did? Almost certainly so. Is that part of motherly instinct? Will my daughter look back and not see the struggles and self-doubt that I have? Will she also go into motherhood with the lens and perspective that I had it all together? Because that is definitely not my reality.
I wish I could wrap this up with a pretty bow, with a life lesson. But the truth is, it’s something I’m still navigating. How do I let my children get an age-appropriate glimpse into my struggles and how I’m working through them without putting unnecessary stress or worry on them? How do I let them experience the bliss of just being kids while emotionally preparing them for the stresses that come with adulthood? I’m still trying to figure it out.
I look forward to having a conversation with them about this when they are grown, and maybe even parents themselves. Because I now see that parenting is all about your perspective.