“Be Yourself. Everyone Else is Already Taken.”

Purposeful Parent Tip: You are doing the best you can…every day!

One of the reasons I started this blog was to inspire moms and dads to think a little a bit differently about their parenting. To tune into that little voice that knows exactly what you should do in any given moment. To help parents tap into your own “internal GPS system” to guide your little ones along their way. But most of all, to stop comparing and competing with other parents.

That’s why I love the quote above by Oscar Wilde. I think it fits beautifully for individuals as well as parents, especially in today’s culture. After reading an article in the Washington Post entitled, “What’s So Bad about American Parents, Anyway?” I was struck with a reaction that I hadn’t expected. While it was a light-hearted article
basically sticking up for us poor, misguided American parents, I found myself
getting angry. Why? Because it brought back memories of all of the moms I’ve
spoken to over the years who continually beat themselves up about not being  good enough.

The writer speaks of the parenting styles of the French and the Argentines and the Eskimos and the Japanese in comparison to American parents. I thought, well this is just great. Not only do American moms constantly compare ourselves to other mothers in our own inner circles, now we have mothers thousands of miles away to compare ourselves to.

Why can’t we be happy with who we are as mothers, and fathers for that matter? Why is our best not good enough? Why does someone else have all the answers that we think are eluding us?

Don’t get me wrong, we can always learn from experts and others who have more experience and that’s a good thing. I’m not advocating shutting your eyes and living in a bubble. What I am saying is that at what point do we accept ourselves as the parent we are and be good with that?

I surely don’t do everything right with my own kids and I see other moms who are fantastic. They have the ‘mommy gene’ and are the ones turning a snowy day into a craft-filled, cookie-baking, snowman making extravaganza! I on the other hand am happy to be inside and snuggled up with a good book or movie with my kids. While I consider myself a very creative person, I’m not like some of my friends who can whip up activities at the drop of a hat. I’m the mom who says, “Want to play Scrabble?” (It’s the writer in me I guess.)

I receive many wonderful comments on this blog and others telling me that I’m a good mother. I do appreciate these comments and know they are heartfelt. My response is always, “I’m just doing the best I can. Some days my best is really, really good. Some days, well, not so much.” But that’s really my point. You put forth your best foot each day, whatever that foot looks like. If you’re like me, there will be days when you really do feel good about your parenting. And, if you’re like me, there will be not so good days.

In my early years of being a working mother, I felt pangs of guilt every time I dropped my kids off at daycare. I thought how terrible I am for abandoning them when they were such little babies. They should be with their mom! But when I saw how happy they were when I came to pick them up and how much they were learning, I realized that they were perfectly fine. And really, so was I.

I’m not stay-at-home-mom material. That was a tough pill to swallow. I need to have some other outlet for myself. But I’ll tell you what. I have the hugest (yes, I know that’s not a real word) respect for moms who stay at home with their kids. HUGE! My friend raised three girls and stayed at home with them through their early teens until she had to find work to help support her family. I was always in amazement of her and how she did it.

So I guess what I am really saying here is that we’re all doing the best we can. Accept that this is enough and stop comparing yourself to other parents and “wishing” you were like them. You’re not! You are an individual with gifts and talents all your own. Remember this the next time you’re reading an article on some new parenting trend or watching the latest parenting expert extol the virtues of his advice on how to raise children.

You know what you are doing. And yes. You are doing the best you can.

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