Mistakes Were Made

I am sure I spend too much time in the mommy blogging world. I’m probably drawn to that world in part due to my current job as an IBCLC and seeing new parents every day I work.
There seems to be very little support of each other online and way too much judging and criticizing. It’s much too easy to do this from behind a screen.

I am so very relieved I did this child-rearing gig before the Interwebs – where I would likely have spent hours reading about how I was doing it all so wrong. From the time the pregnancy test is positive, there are people telling you the best ways of doing it all. And judging you – openly or silently – if you decide to do it “wrong”.

I am a mostly recovered semi-crunchy mom. As a breastfeeding at-home mom in the 80’s, I had 4 “natural” deliveries with various midwives in the hospital setting. (They were quick which made it all much easier to be “unmedicated”, just so ya know.) I just did what I did, didn’t much care what others were doing since I was sort of busy as they multiplied. I never once used the word “empowered” as I was pushing out any of my large children. I used cloth diapers because they were cheaper – not because I was “green”.

I did some co-sleeping with some of them at some ages, but I also did some “CIO” (cry it out) with some of them at some ages. I was not AP (attachment parenting) but was not EZZO or any other rule based parenting style. I breastfed without a Boppy. I rarely successfully used a breast pump. (Pump In Style and Bobby invented after I was all done.) I actually “breastfed in public” 5 or 6 times in the 4.5 years I was breastfeeding these four children. Two refused bottles. (would so do that differently now!) We occasionally spanked. Not often and they grew and then we didn’t spank anymore. And in all of these areas, I’d likely do things differently knowing what I now know. And knowing my children for who they are now. But ALL of these decisions are fodder for judgment nowadays.

How did we figure it all out before the Internet told us how? We observed and learned from a few people we felt were doing it well, read a few books, and watched a video series on parenting. Then there’s the “figure it out as you go along” method. We brought to the table our own experience with our own parents – took what we felt was effective, tweaked a bit here and there, adjusted for the particular child’s “bent” and hoped we were not messing any of them up too badly. We prayed. We hoped. We tried to be good role models. We worked hard to shape the clay that was born to us.

Because that’s the thing – even though you DO learn as you go along – you STILL make mistakes. You are humbled. You apologize, you feel regret, you do it better. You can’t do this thing “right” or “perfectly”. You simply do your best.

They grow, they challenge, they test, and you are humbled time and time again at what you don’t know about parenting. You learn on that first child – and the next child/ren are different and you thought you were getting pretty good at this parenting and then realize maybe you have different things to learn with this one.

It’s best to avoid saying “my child will never do that” or even thinking it – because you don’t know if your child will eventually do that. You set limits and boundaries and give affection and love and say “no” and yes, you even don’t love every minute of every day.

So I’m sorry for parents now in this connected world. I often felt like a failure as a parent, but at least it was my own self-eval – vs. the Internet World telling me I WAS actually doing it all wrong. Hang in there, young parents. The blessings that result from all of your imperfect efforts will be awesome. (aka Keith, Adam, Kerry, Erin)

Sorry guys! Mistakes were made…. πŸ™‚

My son-in-law was being shot down for an opinion he expressed on a parenting issue recently – which inspired this post.

**I work as a lactation consultant and I want to hug the mom who feels defensive for formula feeding and it’s also fine if your child “never had a drop of formula”. Whatever works best for you and yours!

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Published in: on December 20, 2012 at 11:43 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’m with you, Valerie… I have senses that the level of criticizing and blaming of young families ( mostly by each other not from us veterans who have mostly accepted that perfection wasn’t possible). I think us oldsters need ( like you did here) to encourage a cease- fire and live/let love attitude.

    My kids do a lot of the “my kids will never ” stuff and maybe it is a gift that other moms can see that it hasn’t killed me yet.

    I recently had a mom tell me ( in full meltdown mode ) my son is FAILING 9 th grade!!! I said, “so he fails 9 th grade… Big deal… my kids failed out of college and blew $100,000 in the process and I’m sitting here telling you about it … It didn’t kill anyone”. Disasters WILL come, they always do. Pick your battles and love them.

  2. Very well said! We all make mistakes of some kind with our children and still probably will even after they’re grown but falling down and getting back up is part of life. Hopefully making mistakes at times will teach us how to keep on going. Never attempting anything because you’re afraid you’ll make mistakes is a mistake itself.

  3. Found you again, Valerie! πŸ˜‰
    I’ve heard it already from my own oldest child how we did this, this and this “wrong” with him! lol “You shouldn’t have let me do that, mom.” “You should have been more strict!” Ummm, and the giant tantrum you were throwing at the time was supposed to convince me to be even more strict?
    I already see a softening, though, as he is away from home pretty much now, living with a couple friends (still “half” living here, ie., his stuff is here). Yesterday I even got a phone call asking what I was doing and that…gasp, choke…he *cough MISSED me *cough! Asked if I wanted to come see “his place” which I did!
    I’m sure we made HORRIBLE mistakes with him, being the oldest and being my wildly ADHD emotional child — my knees were worn out in prayer, but God has all that under control. We dedicated to HIM, after all, right? He’s turned out fine.
    Three more to go…


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