As Parents, We All Do It

IMG_20170825_085941_671The kids and I stopped at the park on the way home from our bike ride yesterday.  My younger son had some bubbles in his pocket, so he pulled the bottle out and slowly began to fill the sky with happiness.  His brother and sister ran, jumped and clapped the bubbles between their hands.  As the kids laughed and played, I sat contentedly on a nearby bench letting the warm afternoon sun wash over me.

A little boy who had been playing on the nearby slide came barreling over to join in the fun.  My son showed him how to blow through the bubble wand, and soon the boy was scattering bubbles across the park.  A few moments later his mom appeared and began apologizing on behalf of her son.

“I’m so sorry!” she gushed.  “He’s only two.  I hope you don’t mind that he came over!”

I shaded my eyes with my hand, and looked up at her.  “No worries,” I smiled.  “They’re all having fun together.  Bubbles are like the ultimate olive branch among kids.”

“I have so much to learn,” she sighed, plopping down onto the bench beside me.  “I didn’t bring any bubbles or toys with us.  I have a seven month old as well, and she doesn’t need any toys, so I always forget.  I guess I’ll know better for next time.”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself,” I said gently.  “There’s no right or wrong way to go to the park.  Most kids are happy with some sand and a stick.”

“I guess you’re right.”  She paused, thoughtful for a moment, then said, “Your kids are really well behaved.  They’re sharing so nicely with my son, and they’re really happy and polite!  How do you do it with three?  You make it look easy, and I’m here struggling with only two!”

I was so surprised by her comments that it took me a moment to answer.  How and when did I become that mom that other people look at and think, “Wow, she’s really got her shit together!”  I could remember not that long ago being a new mom myself and looking at all the other moms at the park who seemed so at ease, their kids playing perfectly without the need for constant supervision.  I remembered feeling so overwhelmed and discouraged, thinking maybe I was doing something wrong, and wondering if it was ever going to get any easier.

“I struggle every day,” I finally admitted.  “My kids scream and fight, and they often hold each other’s toys hostage.  Sometimes they play nicely together, but sometimes I feel like I’m raising a pack of wild animals.  It’s hard, and sometimes I cry, but every day I learn a little bit more, I become a little bit wiser and a tiny bit more confident.  I used to compare myself to other parents, but after a while I realized that I was never going to be anyone other than me, so I stopped caring about what everyone else did.”

The kids came running up to me then, and I took a moment to tousle their sand filled hair before continuing.   “It will be the same for you,” I said, wiping a streak of dirt off my youngest’s cheek.  “As your kids get older, you’ll gain more experience, you will develop your skills as a mom, and before you know it, you’ll be right here where I am, sitting casually on a bench watching your kids play.”

I paused to sip on some water, and to let that sink in.  “Don’t get me wrong,”  I continued.  “You’ll still be slightly stressed, pretty damn tired, and you may drink a little more wine some days than you should, but you’ll have mastered being able to look totally chill when you take your kids to the park.”

The other mom laughed, then said, “No one has ever been that honest with me before.  You’ve given me more hope than you’ll ever know.  Thank you for that.”

“My pleasure,” I said, and I meant it.  Too often we avoid talking about how hard parenting actually is.  We are all in this together, and it’s okay to share our stories, and to reach out and ask for help.  We all struggle and feel like a failure from time to time, and that is completely normal and perfectly okay.  It’s how we learn and grow, and it’s how we become better parents.


33 thoughts on “As Parents, We All Do It

  1. That woman is already a better mom than she gives herself credit for being – a) she was concerned her child offended and proactively tried to address the issue rather than ignore the behavior or make excuses b) she showed a willingness to learn/improve by asking for tips from a perceived mentor. Not all parents are willing to do either. She’s already setting a great example for her children. I think she is going to do just fine.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I love this post. It’s so true. Us moms of younger kids always observe other moms and sometimes we get feelings of envy as we see them making it look so easy. I only have one and most times I feel like hot mess exhausted mom. But some days my son makes me look like a rock star mom and I know that I might be the mom the others observe. Looks can truly be deceiving when it comes to parenting and your kid can make you look like the mother who totally has her sh*t together and one hour later they can make you look like you are totally out of control and losing your mind! I’m all for being totally open and honest about the struggles of parenting. It isn’t all sunshine and flowers like some people want to portray it!

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  3. That’s awesome – great advice! I feel like I took parenting too seriously when I was new at it. Things had to be a certain way – if my kids, well, were kids and not perfect little beings – I took it that I was doing a bad job. Lesson learned! Wish I had someone like you around to advise me, too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I felt the exact same way you did! I was so hard on myself, and I took everything way too seriously!!
      I’m sure we would have gotten along fabulously had we met as new moms. 🙂

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      1. I agree – it would have been me asking, “Do you know what the heck to do, cause I sure don’t!” I already imagine it would have been a really fun time 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Spot on!! Love the part about wild animals. I’ve been out sometimes and they have been almost angelic and people have commented how well behaved they are. They wouldn’t of been saying that an hour earlier when they were chucking themselves around the trampoline like it was a pop corn maker and shouting boobies at the top of their voices! Nothing wrong with a bit of wild though!! X

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  5. So true. Best day for me was when I realized I wasn’t a total shit parent, only varying degrees over time. And that that is perfectly fine. Well written, a really enjoyable read thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You have got it just right! Motherhood is instinctive and a job you grow into. It is the most challenging, most rewarding and most tiring because it never really ends… What matters is one’s attitude- as you said there is no right way and no wrong way and we should accept that and get on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are absolutely right. One’s attitude makes all the difference, but it can sometimes take us a while to realize that. 😉 It is easy to feel overwhelmed and to feel as though we have no control over the chaos of raising young children.


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