Long before I began my motherhood journey I knew exactly the type of mother that I wanted to be. While my mother, grandmothers, and aunts set a good example, I knew there were things about their parenting style that were different from what I idealized would make me the perfect mom. In no way does this mean that anything they did was incorrect. It just didn’t fit who I felt I wanted to be as a mother. Growing up I had very independent and often rebellious ideas about my choices in life. I was a kid who believed that you could bring a horse to water but you could not make them drink. I formed my ideas regarding the type of mom I wanted to be around this notion.
Not long after I had my son, maybe around when he was two, I began writing my first book, Sliding into Motherhood: Life lessons from a Bad Mom (clink link for Amazon). My motivation came from two years of trial and error as a new first time mom alongside the desire to show other mothers that there was no perfect model for being a parent. I wanted to show a side of motherhood that embraced the human side of making a mistake, the reality of postpartum, and the ability to find beauty in your struggles. I had read one too many parenting books that would have you ready to throw in the towel as a parent because you weren’t following the rules.
Social media can be another place of validation that new moms go to when they run into the daily roadblocks we go through as parents. The negativity and judgement in some of the comments will leave you questioning your entire thought and decision making process if you are not self-assured enough to ignore the criticism. I think about the fuss that was made over Hillary Duff piercing her daughters ears under the age of 6 months. Who are we to tell another mother what or when the right time is to pierce their child’s ears? How about the mothers that don’t want to pierce their daughters ears until a later age? Are they now a bad parent for not doing the societal norm of early ear piercing?
No two children are the same and how you parent them, even under the same household can vary. My mother taught me that with my own siblings. She learned what worked for each of us individually and used that to parent us throughout the years. My sister often jokes that I am different with Jurni than I was with Jayden. That is because my kids are nothing close to the same. To accept generalized criticism from someone who has never personally been around my children or does not have children with similar personalities to my own could have a negative impact on my own confidence to make parenting decisions. This does not mean that your criticism is wrong or that I think I know more than you as a parent. To agree to disagree does nothing more than make us two mothers who both have found a successful strategy for our own children.
Whenever I speak with my friends, I always throw out the disclaimer that I cannot speak for them as mothers or speak as their children but this is what worked for mine. I communicate with my kids sometimes as if they are adults and that may not be for everyone. I allow Jayden to ask questions and Speak his mind freely, under the premise that he understands what he is saying. I in no way walk around as if I have not made a ton of parenting mistakes over the years, but that is also what makes me an awesome parent. I understand that parenting is an everyday growth process. Until we are placed in the situation, there is no book that can properly tell you how to handle when when your child is sick, has their first crush, falls off their first bike, or loses their first sports game. One day Jurni is going to get her period and I promise you there is no two mothers who can say they handled that day with their daughter the same. I chose to potty train starting at 12 months which by psychological standards is considered a risk for psychological consequences in a child. By 18 months, Jayden was fully potty trained and I have no regrets in my choice to start early. On the other end, I have a friend who waited til her boys were three before starting. While that is not the choice for me, I don’t find it my place my question why it was the choice for her. Sometimes we place too much emphasis on the opinions of others when we should just trust our own motherly instincts.
You don’t need a FB group, a baby manual, or instagram post to tell you that you are doing what is best for your children. The proof shows in the achievements and accomplishments your little ones make. When my son smiles at me, gives me a hug, a small kiss, or tells me he loves me before bed, I know somewhere I am doing something right as his mother. My kids are my proof that something I am doing is working as well as my reality check that something I am doing needs to change.