When in actuality, there is no shortage of families in the neighborhood to fill the swimming classes, and any number of other “enrichment” programs in the neighborhood – Singing in Mandarin, Arts for Toddlers, Music for Toddlers, Soccer for Toddlers, Tumbling for Toddlers, Drum and Dance for Toddlers and more.
This insanity is nothing new. It started way back when I was pregnant. I poured through piles of pregnancy and parenting books, signed up for every baby countdown and milestone calendar I could find, joined every parenting community and more. I wanted to do everything the right way. I wanted my daughter to have the upper hand, and I would do anything to provide. I would work at a job I hate and miss bedtime because I have a conference call at 8pm with the West Coast so she could go to swimming class, take ballet, learn Mandarin and whatever else it took.
I recently did a Google search for “How to be a Good Mom”. There were 1,160,000,000 results! Seriously? Everyone has an opinion, a tip, a top ten list, a guidebook, or a method to be a good mom. Yes, of course, I want to be a good mom, but when did it become so complicated, so judgmental? When was deciding not to breastfeed warrant wearing a Scarlet A. Or when did becoming a stay-at-home mom become a copout, or worse, a blow to women’s rights?
Yeah, I knew that becoming a mother would be a huge responsibility and a lot of work, but I never expected all the guilt; to second-guess every decision I make. What if I’m not making the right decision? What does this decision say about me or the kind of mother I am? Will this put C* at a disadvantage? Am I being a “helicopter” mom or whatever new label all the magazines are using?
I’m not blaming the authors, bloggers, experts, and the media for putting this pressure on us (me). Like any good marketer, they are simply responding to need – demand for more information, more advice, more shortcuts, more how to’s. Well, no more. This year, my resolution is to trust my instincts and learn from my mistakes. Sure, I’d like to avoid as many mistakes as possible, but in the end, I think it will be the mistakes that make me a smarter, stronger and more confident mom, and a better role model for my daughter.
If I don’t want to make my daughter a sandwich in the shape of a giraffe or some other zoo animal, and pack up a microwave meal, I will. And, you know what, if she likes and eats it, even better. In my opinion, if I feel less pressure about what to feed her, she will also feel that way about food. Hopefully, this will help her build a healthy relationship with food. I will teach my daughter the importance of nutrition but not by disguising food, but learning which ones are both nutritious and satisfying/enjoyable to eat. I’ll teach her to enjoy indulgent foods in moderation, not to fear cookies and cake. Because, I’m sorry, tofu ice cream does not taste like regular ice cream.
I will stop worrying about which school so-and-so goes to and how we will weasel our way onto a waiting list. I’m going to focus on the now and celebrate the fact that C* loves to sing the alphabet with mommy and daddy even though she gets tripped up on the “L-M-N-O-P” part. She’s 2 – and this is AMAZING.
We will take our daughter to the indoor pool at my aunt’s apartment building because, quite frankly, she just learned to walk 5 months ago, so I doubt she’ll be doing the butterfly anytime soon. I will enjoy the fact that she loves water as much as my husband and I do, and nothing makes her giggle more than jumping off the ledge of the pool into her daddy’s arms!
There you have it. It’s on paper. I will start to take it easier on myself, with the knowledge that every decision I make comes from good intentions. Don’t get
me wrong, I’ll probably drive myself crazy about something, but hopefully, not everything. That I will find situations where I can trust my gut and see where that path takes me, and look for experts and help when I need to. It’s just nice to have options.
And before anyone gets angry or feels that I’m criticizing their decisions, I’m not. I’m not looking to start a movement; I’m not looking to devalue what experts say and I’m not knocking anyone’s parenting philosophies or beliefs. This is a resolution for me. But, if anyone else feels overwhelmed or guilty about not doing enough, I hope that this will help them realize their own resolutions.