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No mother really knows exactly what she's doing
By Erin Stewart
Published: February 23, 2009
I love watching people's reactions when I tell them I write a column on motherhood. Their stunned eyes go from me to my daughter, who is covered in chocolate, throwing a tantrum and biting my leg. They are confused, to say the least.
"It's not an advice column," I add quickly. "It's more like an observational humor column. I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing as mom."
And I can see the world making sense again to that person as they promise to read my next article.
But here's the dirty secret that I've found out as a mom: I'm not the only one who is lost. None of us has any idea what we're doing.
That's right — all moms fake it.
Oh sure, we love to talk about the latest parenting book we read or the discipline method that works wonders for our child, but the truth is we're totally clueless. If we do happen to stumble on a winning sleeping routine for our baby, a way to get them to eat or a trick to getting them through a grocery trip without complete meltdown, it's sheer luck.
There are plenty of times when I am hit smack in the face with the realization once again that there is no manual for motherhood and so much of it is trial and error.
You know, errors like completely forgetting to feed my daughter dinner last Saturday because I was so excited to be going out on an actual date with my husband. I actually did my hair and actually took a pre-date picture and actually hired a baby sitter.
And when I got home at midnight, I realized I had also actually forgotten to feed my daughter.
I'm not proud of this by any means.
I know all you Super-Moms out there are gasping while you knit baby clothes and scrapbook in your child's memory album. But come on, in your heart, you know kids are a guessing game and we're all desperately trying to get it right without doing too much lasting damage.
Even the "experts" don't get it right 100 percent of the time. At a seminar for mothers this month, I was reminded that all children are different, all moms are doing their best and what works for one family could be a disaster in another.
I sat in one class, for example, as a mother and entrepreneur of a parenting program told the audience how you should never punish a child. Never.
Rather, when your child sasses you and sticks out her tongue, you should hug that little child tight and tell her how much you love her and that because you speak with her in loving tones, she should treat you the same way.
I could tell several other women in the audience had the same thought as I did: "Umm … have you ever even met a 3-year-old?"
Down the hall, another mom/parenting method guru told eager mothers that you need to be firm in discipline, even using spanking if that is what will get through to your child. "Mary Poppins is gone," she said.
I left the seminars feeling a little more confused than when I went in.
So what's a mom to do when all the experts conflict, all the books come out with new editions each year proving the old ways were wrong, and every mom on the street has different advice on how to raise your kids?
For me, the answer is this: It just doesn't matter.
Maybe you don't follow the latest parenting method. So what? Maybe you haven't mastered naptime. Who cares? Maybe you wake up every morning wondering how in the world you were allowed to take this child home from the hospital and praying someone will drop off that elusive motherhood manual on your doorstep.
As long as your children laugh more than they cry, hug more than they hit and go to bed hearing "I love you" each night, I think you're doing a pretty good job.
And that is my expert opinion.
Erin Stewart's blog, Just4Mom, can be found Tuesdays and Thursdays at deseretnews.com. E-mail: email@example.com
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