Parenting — it’s five full-time jobs and being the nominal head of a strange planet called “Rugratopia,” because face it: The toddlers are the true Ones in Charge. I wouldn’t change being a parent for all the other jobs in the world, no matter many how many times my toddler declares she’s dictator of the world and decides to plot her vision for global dominance on the walls in crayon. Hubby and I will just include it with her college applications.
I, For One, Welcome Our Baby Overlords
Parenting is dang hard — it leaves you at the mental exhaustion level of putting the milk in the cabinet and cooking nothing on the stove for an hour before you remember to twist the burner knob. Your children challenge you and your core beliefs daily — they’re the greatest little teachers in the world. Yes, better than the Pope — and with more poop. It’s impossible not to love these wacko, yet beneficial, rulers of Rugratopia. The conflicting emotions of parenting typically balance out, but there are days when you don’t know whether to cry, or pull your hair out. Heck, there are days when you do leave winding trails of Chewbacca-thick strands around the house. Sometimes, you feel like the worst parent in the world, but you’re not alone in having those sh*tty parenting days. You have the meltdown to end all meltdowns and worry you damaged your relationship with your kid — then, they hug you, and you remember: love. I learned to give into the idea of needing to always be in control, because those bad days of feeling lost happen. The more you deny it, the more the bad associations and feelings persist. I, for one, welcome our baby overlords, and I believe all of you feel the same, even on those toughest of days.
You Are Unique, Doing a Good Job — And You’re Not Alone
No one knows any of this in the way you know it — not even other moms or dads or your partner. No one is having your exact experience but you, but that doesn’t mean you’re all alone. You’re doing a good job being the best parent you can be at any given moment. In fact, the “good-enough” parents are the best parents for not demanding perfection of themselves and their children. Perfection orbits out of the realm of human beings who live life day to day. So, take it day to day, and let the best moments feel like years, instead of the bad ones. When the bad moments persist, remember love. Love yourself and hug your kid. Find that little nugget of warmth in yourself and project it outward, because you’re a badass who respects your kids and loves them for exactly who they are. Remember to take time to appreciate yourself and how unique you are. Give yourself that gift, as woo-woo as it sounds. That’s how I get by and pretend parenting isn’t hard on the worst days. You’re doing great, and the universe has your back.
No Parent Should Want to Be Perfect
The first moments after your baby is born are exhilarating, but they’re also the most frightening in your life because in your eyes they are perfection — they’re the most perfect thing you’ll ever make in your entire life. So, you know what? Accept that. Accept the fact that you made this beautiful tiny human. The bar raised, and you met it. Let go. Perfection is boring! If you were perfect, you wouldn’t have anything to achieve or grow toward. Worrying about being perfect limits your ability to parent to the best of your ability. Parents exhibit less confidence when they focus excessively on what other people think online and offline. Turn off social media. Stop showcasing your private moments or focusing on the ones scrolling endlessly through your feed, if that only makes you feel worse. What does being good enough look like to you? Challenge it. Release the myth of perfect parenthood. Use play and pretend to your advantage. Use imagination and memory. Being a good parent is more about the how of it than the what. You need to be in the moment with your child, rather than checked out or stressed out. Keep doing your best: being sensitive to their needs, explaining rules, negotiating as appropriate, expressing warmth and playing games. Your kids are learning to regulate their emotions, and right now, they’re developing at incredible rates. Their first times should remind you of your own, and how there are always more first times to come. Life doesn’t get easier, and it was never meant to be easy.
You May Not Think So, But You Got This
When you’re a parent, the struggle is real. You tell your kid to stop kicking the table for the billionth time and kiss the resulting boo-boo. You get a better cleaner for the walls they decide to paint with crayon — their plans for world dominance. Some days, you have to check out from the skepticism of others and the media. Other realities don’t represent your own. You’re doing your best, even when you don’t think so. Say it together one more time: “I’m unique, doing a good job, and we’re all in this parenting thing together.” Plus, you made this perfect tiny human, but that doesn’t mean you have to be perfect.