I can distinctly remember my parents warning me about becoming a parent. They told me how hard it was and how much it would change my life. They didn’t really talk about any of the positives. I remember thinking at the time – wow, my parents regret ever having me. I don’t actually think that’s the case, I think they just wanted me to understand the weight of becoming a parent.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like it’s hard to become a parent. It’s actually pretty easy to be a parent, but I do think it’s hard to be a good parent. Of course, the characteristics of a ‘good parent’ probably differ dramatically across places, culture, space and time. But for me, being a good parent means that I can provide a safe and loving home, opportunities to explore, interrogate and learn about the world, and I can instill values so they grow up to be good, caring, loving and responsible people.
To be honest, a lot of the time I feel like I could do better. It’s not for lack of effort, but for lack of time. It is tough being a working professional who also has a (nearly) full time side hustle as a lifestyle blogger. It’s hard to juggle both jobs while also trying to keep up my house, bills, and all the rest. It’s hard to find the time to sit down with my kids and have those conversations that will, hopefully, make them the people I want them to become.
There are a lot of times when I think I should stop writing my blog and instead fill that time with more one-on-one time for my kids. But then I also think I am setting a fantastic example of someone who goes after her dreams, takes charge, and makes things happen. Also, my blog has provided all of us a lot of opportunities we might not have had otherwise. I’ve been blogging since my son was only 6 months old, so it’s hard to say what I’d be like as a parent without it. At this point, I’m not ready to give it up and I know, in the long run, they will be proud of who their mama is and all she’s accomplished to go after her goals.
At the same time, I now understand what my parents were saying. There are a lot of days when I absolutely feel like a giant failure. But then there are moments, like our recent trip to Cape Cod, when I could reflect on my parenting and finally appreciate some quality time with my kids.
During the trip, I stole some quiet moments to have real conversations with my kids. Even though they are very young (4 and 5), I still want them to start learning about values. I try to articulate the things I hope for them. It is important to me that they understand their value in society, that they have confidence in themselves and that they work hard for the things that they want in life. I want them to value each other and always have each other’s backs as siblings. It is important to me to start having these conversations early.
There are some things I know I do well as a parent. I show them love to the point that they are annoyed with all my kisses. I tell them every single day that they are the two most important people in my life. No matter where I am in the world, I always find the time to call them. They know they are loved, there is no question in my mind.
But what I’m not so good at – I’m not good at cherishing the moments. I’m horrible at standing still and enjoying the present. I’m constantly thinking about the future and the next task I need to check off my list. This means, I often miss those quiet, surprising and joyous moments with my kids. This past weekend away reminded me I need to continuously work on living in the present. I don’t want to look back and realize I missed all of those little moments.
For all the moms out there, let’s be kinder to ourselves and the other moms in our lives. Let’s give ourselves a break and remember we are trying our best. Let us also celebrate the people in our lives who give us support, be it our lovers, our friends, or our family members. Here’s to another year of motherhood. Here’s to a chance at a fresh start – a chance to do better and be better. Let’s show our kids we can do it all, even if it’s not all at once.
Looking for other mama stories? Here’s one about my struggle with breastfeeding, the 10 things I miss about life before kids, and 6 surprising things from my first year of parenting.