Monday, November 7, 2011

Why I Love Being a Mom but Don't Like Parenting

I have recently come to the conclusion that I don't like parenting.  My partner and I have three children and I love being a mom – supporting my children, protecting them and showering them with affection. But I have to admit that I don’t like parenting. In this context, I’m talking about parenting in terms of issuing rules and regulations, constantly lecturing and berating, and instilling fear in them to control their behavior. I don’t like it, it drains me and quite honestly I wish I could delegate it to someone else. I wish I could just let my kids be who they are without having to restrain them, but I realize that they need boundaries.

I was only 24 when I had my first child, and I recall being terrified when the hospital released me into the world with this little bundle of life. Not only was I a single mom, I was also very immature and naive about the world. Although I had a degree and a good job, from an emotional and financial perspective, I felt like a kid. Prior to having a child, I thought of myself as lazy and unreliable. Of course, this perception was skewed by the low self-esteem and self-destructive behavior that defined my late teens and early twenties. I didn’t feel that I took such great care of myself, so I questioned how in the world I would manage to take care of a helpless baby that needed constant attention and care. Despite my fears, my natural instincts kicked in and I embraced being a mother. I loved my child with a passion that I’d never experienced before and that love really fueled me to take better care of myself for the benefit of my child.

Then my baby started to grow up. I had to learn to discipline him. I had to learn when it was time to nurture and when it was time to scold. When does he need tough love? How do I avoid spoiling him? And then four years later there were two babies. I was awed to discover that this immeasurable love could multiply. But then more uncertainty settled in. I still didn’t know which end was up in terms of my relationship, and here we were with another baby. I questioned my ability to teach them the right things. In other words, how would I teach them to not do the dumb things I had done? How would I teach them to be better than me, when I was still figuring out how to better myself? These thoughts clouded my mind with self-doubt and parenting anxiety.

As I started talking about my feelings, I gleaned from other parents that we all wonder if we are doing things the right way. We lose sleep, we pray, and we beat up on ourselves - worrying that we are doing too much or not enough. And how do we measure success? When they become straight A students? When they go to college? When they avoid the pitfalls of drugs and crime? When they become successful in their careers? Is there a right or wrong way to do this parenting thing to get the “results” we want and not screw up our kids? Over time, I’ve accepted that there are no clear answers or universal definitions of what works. So, maybe we should just love our children, accept ourselves for the parents we are and accept our children for the people they become.

What do you think?  Do you or have you ever had moments of parenting anxiety?  Are there aspects of parenting that are harder for you to deal with than others?

I originally wrote this piece as a guest post for Mommyhood: Next Right, one of my favorite blogs about motherhood and life.  I really enjoyed writing it and making sense of these feelings, so I had to share it here on PLPT, as well.  :)

2 comments:

Peaches:) said...

Love reading your posts:) Makes me feel like I'm not alone. I too wonder if I make the right decisions regarding my child. It was OK to be carefree, spontaneous, and immature as I navigated through life on my own, but now I have a huge responsibility of caring for another person when at times I feel like I can't take care of myself. Heck, I misplace my keys regularly! But I remind myself that it's OK if I'm not perfect, and it's even OK if everyone doesn't agree with me. I have to trust my judgement, even when I feel like second guessing it, I have to be confident that I am doing the best I can. Also learning to trust in God more, b/c when it comes to kids, some things you just can't control.

Dr. McClay said...

Love is an elixir; a human lives with love, is made happy by love and makes those around him or her happy with love. In the vocabulary of humanity, love is life; we feel and sense each other with love.
by Fethullah Gulen
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