Today I got my latest edition of People Magazine. I know. I know. But it’s my one guilty pleasure-read each week. I fit it in between The New Yorker and The Atlantic Monthly – both of which take me much longer to read. Not as many pictures. Good cartoons, though.
This week’s People Magazine featured a rosy and pregnant Meghan Markle, aka Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Sussex on the cover. She is beaming. Inside there were all sorts of little details about a recent baby shower held in NYC by all of her American friends, like Serena Williams.
What caught my attention was Serena Williams saying she gave Meghan all sorts of advice. Not bad, getting advice from Serena Williams! But I recall that Serena had a lot of challenges with the birth of her daughter and just after with postpartum depression.
My kids are both adults now, but like most women I remember each birth as if it was yesterday. I also recall getting a serious case of what I thought was simply the “baby blues”.
I also remember getting a lot of advice. Some solicited, but most of it not solicited at all.
Sometimes when I scroll through Social Media sites I still see mommy and parent shaming. I read about all kinds of parenting tips and a whole lot of “shoulds”. People really enjoy “shoulding” on others – especially parents.
My kids are pretty amazing. My husband and I have a great relationship with both, but I can tell you, there were many times when we looked at each other and wondered, “Was that a bad parenting choice?” I still wonder, in particular, if I was a good mother. Maybe I should have done this, should have bought that, and definitely shouldn’t have said that.
See? We even “should” on ourselves.
So when I read the article about Meghan and the advice she was getting, I wanted to give my own thoughts on parenting. Not “shoulds.” I wanted to tell her things I wish people had told me at different times during my motherhood journey: when I was a new mother, raising toddlers, beginning the school age years, entering the middle school dramas and surviving teen-hood and college apps.
So here goes:
- You might have second thoughts about having a child while you’re having another contraction. And then another. You might want to give up. It’s Okay. You’re Not A Bad Mom.
- Sometimes you won’t want to read “Guess How Much I Love You” because you find yourself sobbing the whole time. It’s Okay. You’re Not A Bad Mom.
- Sometimes you’ll resent getting up again to nurse at 3:00 am because you just got back to sleep at 2:30 am from the last feeding. It’s Okay. You’re Not A Bad Mom.
- Sometimes you’ll want to go back to work because you want to talk to someone who can string together multisyllabic words. Coherently. It’s Okay. You’re Not A Bad Mom.
- Sometimes you’ll want to have one night with your partner or husband. Alone. Just the two of you. It’s Okay. You’re Not A Bad Mom.
- Sometimes you might let your children watch one more episode of an inane TV or web show because you really need to pee, cook, get laundry in the wash, dry your hair. Whatever. It’s Okay. You’re Not A Bad Mom.
- You might get bored hearing the piano piece or the trombone piece or the (please God, no!) recorder piece one more time before the recital, or even fake a call so you can put in your earbuds and listen to some REAL music for a while. It’s Okay. You’re Not A Bad Mom.
- At some point you might take your 10 year old to a PG-13 movie because the movie your 13 year old wants to see is a lot more interesting than the G movie in the theater down the street. It’s Okay. You’re Not A Bad Mom.
- Some day you might drop an F-bomb in front of your children and a few friends when they run through the house with muddy shoes across your newly installed carpet. It’s Okay. You’re Not A Bad Mom.
- You might eat the last sleeve of the Thin Mint cookies in the freezer even though child number two LOVES thin mints, because, well. They. Were. There. It’s Okay. You’re Not A Bad Mom.
- You might buy a $5.00 Little Caesar’s Pepperoni Pizza every night for a week just before taxes are due in April. It’s Okay. You’re Not A Bad Mom.
- You might help out too much on that school project that you heard about the night before it was due. But just this once! It’s Okay. You’re Not A Bad Mom.
- You might not have the energy to listen, or cook, or clean or do much of anything when you are consumed by your grief over losing your own mother. It’s Okay. You’re Not A Bad Mom.
The thing is, you are okay. You’re not a bad mom. Motherhood isn’t always fun. Post Partum depression is a real thing, and please do see your doctor if you are more than a little weepy. You’re not a bad Mom if it gets tough and you feel like you are doing it all wrong. Your life will be tough, too. Work. Friendships. Sandwich Generation. Grief and loss.
You’re not a bad Mom if you worry about being a bad Mom. You’re human.
The one thing I say to parents is always – be gentle with yourself. Be as gentle with yourself as you will be with your kids when they are downhearted or sad or frustrated. Be as gentle with yourself as you are with a friend who is hurting.
It’s Okay. You’re Not A Bad Mom.