There’s something hidden in plain sight in every day moments. Something that says you and I are amazing parents. It can be easy to forget it, too, when so much of our focus is on our little ones.
At day-care pickup, my husband and I often try to steal a quiet moment watching our daughter before she notices we’re there. We’re so curious what she’s like out in the world, with other people.
Once we’re all home, we shift into more familiar spaces and dynamics. A routine that involves the obligatory snack and diaper changes and playing together (or averting a tired melt-down) while somehow getting dinner on the table. Where do the days go? And did you catch the melt-down bit in that last sentence? They’re getting more common. Full-body-on-the-floor tantrums, following me and crying loudly for minutes on end when she’s been told “no.” Is there ever a way to feel less frazzled in these moments?
But still, we move on and watch from a distance when we can, eager to know what this person is like when she’s not in mama-and-papa-are-right-here mode.
Who Our Kids Are
A family friend made an interesting comment recently. She shared an old saying: Who your kids are with other people is who they will be. The sentence has lodged solidly in my mind and I know I will be watching differently now. Looking for how she brings her home-self into the world, and also for how she shows up without that home-self version that I know so well. What a beautiful mystery she is!
The sentence also seems to resolve a common theme among moms of judging our own parenting. There’s this scene in a Netflix show I’ve been watching that drives home the point. The show’s called “Working Moms,” and it’s got laugh-out-loud moments around every turn. There’s one scene in particular that I think we can all relate to. There’s this mama who is wholesome to a fault when it comes to her children – but one day something goes wrong in public and she breaks down, telling the other moms around her how being a mom is her one job and she’s failing at it. They can’t believe their ears that this wonderful parent would say that about herself.
A parenting secret hidden in plain sight
Do you ever feel like that? It’s a crazy thing, isn’t it? Judging our own parenting when there are literally no guidelines, no criteria, and no grades. For me, the old wisdom that “who our children are in public is who they will be” brings comfort to the craziness of self-judgment and doubt that threatens the edges of parenting. It’s a parenting secret hidden in plain sight.
Think about it – we know our children deeply, in a way that no one else ever could. And yet, we somehow still can only scratch the surface. There is a vast spectrum to who they are and who they will be that we can only guess at, only hope for. In the end – because of and in spite of our lovin’ efforts – they’re already picking up the ball and running on their own.
During my daughter’s first year, I often felt like the center of her universe. Part of me thinks now, though, that as moms, we’re always the backdrop. The solid place to come home to. And we know how to do that. We do that easily. We do it well. This, my friends, is how we know absolutely that we are doing this parenting thing right.
***I’m curious, how do you talk yourself off the ledge when you start to doubt your abilities as a mom? What parenting wisdom has come your way? Please share in the comments. May our lovin’ energy inspire and lift each other up! go mama!