As much as you hate to admit it, you know you uttered those words at one point or another in your life, back before you truly understood the depth of this whole parenting gig.
You’d walk through the store, relaxed and enjoying life as you noticed that kid screaming in the aisle–mom powerless to stop it–and uttered that judgmental phrase under your breath.
And of course, you knew at that point in your life that you would be a great mom, a better mom than any of these other imposters because you alone truly understood how to raise kids, and no one else knew the magic that you knew.
That is until you became a mom and learned that getting kids to do what you want them to do is much harder than it seemed back then. And that stopping a temper tantrum isn’t as simple as walking away, ignoring or scolding, like you always believed.
Back in the day, parenting seemed so simple. You dreamed of the day that you’d become a parent–the perfect disciplinarian–and it looked something like this:
You dreamed of cuddles, kisses and kind, respectful children who followed your directions–always–because…well because they are your children and you wouldn’t accept any less, right?
The Delusion of Easy Parenting
(Most) People without kids think that parenting is so easy.
There’s something about the stress-free life of roaming a store without having to worry if that screaming kid belongs to you that makes you feel comfortable enough to think that it’s so very easy.
And any attempt by an experienced (or shall I say surviving?) parent to educate you about the stress and responsibilities of parenthood only fuels your argument that you know more than they do.
Back in the early days of my career, when I had two degrees and a lot to prove, I set out with a lofty goal to let parents know that I was going to teach them how to parent the right way (i.e. my way).
This didn’t go over well. For some reason, these parents didn’t really want much advice from a newbie, non-parent counselor who was ready to teach them how to parent from a book. (Hmm…I wonder why?)
At the time, I was really offended. I didn’t think that it was fair for a parent to tell me that I didn’t understand the real world of parenting. After all, I had a couple of degrees, way more education than they did. Didn’t that make me qualified?
I fought back against the legitimate concerns of these parents. I defended my degrees, my experience and the extensive amount of reading that I did that proved to me that I was capable, regardless of my lack of motherhood.
But on the day I found myself in tears over my inability to get a baby to sleep, my confidence was seriously shaken. I was beginning to understand what these parents were talking about…
I’m sure you’ve experienced a day such as this, one of those days when you need the kids to nap more than they need it. One of those days when your patience is drawing thin and you feel a yell coming on.
You see, I never thought that I would need kids to nap.
I didn’t think I’d ever need that because I knew that I’d be so skilled to handle any situation that came my way, so patient to remain calm, cool and collected as I handled any problem according to the research-based evidence provided in a myriad of books that I had read.
But I was wrong!
On this day, I desperately needed the kids to nap.
I longed for 30 minutes from now, when that blessed naptime would finally arrive, the kids would be asleep (some of you are laughing right now at my naivety in equating naptime to sleeptime, as we all know that kids don’t draw the same conclusion!) and I could relax on the couch with a hot cup of coffee and a rare few moments of quiet.
Two tear-filled hours later, I found myself alone with the baby and sleep was nowhere in sight.
I tried rocking.
I tried swaying.
I tried shhing, singing and silence.
Nothing was working and this baby was nowhere closer to sleep than two hours ago when naptime was supposed to have begun.
For the first time in my life, I had to set a baby down and walk away for a few moments of clarity. Me…the woman with 6 years of college education and 10+ years in the fields of child care and counseling.For the first time in my life, I had to set a baby down and walk away for a few moments of clarity. Click To Tweet
I was confused and embarrassed. I felt incredibly guilty that I had made it to the point that I needed to walk away from a screaming baby.
The “I’m qualified because I have two degrees and years of experience in child care” me would have been appalled.
She would have been able to get the baby to sleep instantly.
She would have been able to stay cool, calm and collected while she gently rocked the baby to sleep.
She would have known exactly what to do, and exactly which page in one of her many books had “the answer” to the problem at hand.
But she was nowhere in sight; and her words of advice weren’t relevant to me in that moment.
All that was left was me, tears streaming down my face with these words in my head…
If this is what parenting is like, I don’t think I want it.
My how the mighty had fallen!
I had fallen from my perch as the childless expert child counselor, flat on my face to a still childless and fearful of motherhood nobody.
I felt like an absolute failure. And I truly did wonder if I would ever want to have kids of my own, knowing now that I didn’t have the slightest idea about how to parent the “right” way as I had always assumed.
The Myth of the Childless Parenting Expert
In the past few years, I’ve undergone quite the transformation.
In my early college years, I was that non-parent mom shamer who thought that I had all of the right answers to parenting that these experienced moms weren’t smart enough to understand. I said, or at least thought, “My child will never act like that!”
That was back then…
- Before I learned that no book has the absolute right answer to any parenting dilemma, from how to get a baby to stop crying to how to stop a toddler from having a tantrum.
- Before I learned that raising kids isn’t black and white…that there’s a lot of emotion (mostly guilt sprinkled with intermittent terror that you’re screwing the kid up for life) that gets in the way of all of those perfect parenting decisions I just knew I’d make back then.
- Before I learned that everyone–those with degrees and experience in child care and those with absolutely no education or experience in child development–feels like a failure in how they handled a parenting decision…usually on a daily basis.
Why am I telling you this? Why am I sharing what I believe to be the most vulnerable moment of my professional life in a public setting for anyone and everyone to read?
Why don’t I hide this moment these hours of failure from the world and act like I’ve got it all together, that nothing a kid can throw at me will phase me?
Well, mostly because that type of mentality doesn’t do any of us any good.
I’m annoyed these days by the posts I see on my Facebook feed on a daily basis.
Mom yells at child for doing good deed…what are parents teaching their kids these days!
Parents on phone when picking child up from daycare…don’t parents care about their kids anymore?
Why has parent shaming become the norm?
It seems that the world has put so much pressure on moms to always be on, always perform at their best. If an unsuspecting mom is not at her best, she might find her actions on social media with a #momfail forever linked to her face.
And if that mom is like you, I already know that she feels terrible, guilty, like an epic failure who is definitely screwing her kids up for life.
Moms like you who feel guilty like that don’t need someone else to tell you that you’re doing it wrong. You’re already doing a good enough job of that yourself!
You don’t need criticism. You need support and reminders that even the most educated and experienced professionals–people who spend time with children for a living–feel like epic failures too.
And I hope that by sharing my own failures and most vulnerable moments with you right alongside those moments of success, you can trust that support and respect is exactly what you’ll receive here at DisciplinedChildren.com.
No mom-shaming articles disguised as “helpful advice.”
Just support and respect from a counselor who is more than willing to admit my own failures to you, who knows (after years of experiencing my own setbacks) that acting like the expert who never has any problems provides no value to you.
Here’s to a journey of #momfails that will make us all better at this challenging job!Here's to a journey of #momfails that will make us all better at this challenging job!. Click To Tweet
Can you do yourself a favor? All of those “mistakes” you’ve been beating yourself over are eating you away from the inside out. Get that off your chest by sharing your story in the comments section below. I promise that you’ll feel better and you might even learn a thing or two by reading other people’s stories!
*P.S. If you want to use a fake name, I won’t tell anyone 🙂