Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A little bit of credit

When I first set out on the whole parenthood journey, there were a lot of people who were significantly less than supportive.  There were people, some very close to me, who said I wouldn't be very good at it.  There were people who said they never "saw me as a mom".  There were people who asked me if I was sure I was cut out for this.  That was hard.  That put a lot of doubt into my head.  It shook my confidence to the point where I actually didn't think I could be a good parent, because no one around me thought I could.  That's the weird thing about people.  When a person has faith in you, it's like you can do anything, but the second you feel like no one is in your corner, everything feels pointless.

Then, after my daughter was born, after I had been told while in labor that I "probably couldn't do it" ("it" being labor and delivery), I found myself in a panic at the idea of being allowed to go home with a baby that I clearly had no business taking care of because even while in the midst of birthing her, people still didn't think I could do it.  I panicked that I'd be sent home to care for her without the help of people who know so much more than I do about babies.  I was afraid to leave the hospital, because I thought that once I was on my own, I'd fulfill everyone's prophecy about me.

That's when something kind of amazing happened.  I did just fine.  I took care of her, kept her alive, seemed to know what she needed and when she needed it.  I got her through sickness, and through GERD, and through teething.  I snuggled her when she cried.  I played with her when she was alert.  I did all of the things that were expected of me, and I did them well.  It took me a long time to bond with her, but once things clicked, that was that.  It all worked.  I proved the naysayers wrong.

Then, we got to the point where my daughter was older, and despite the fact that she was thriving, people wanted to weigh in again on my abilities.  This time it was less about someone thinking I could do the basics of loving her and keeping her alive.  This time the thing that came into question was again about me, and about who I was, and whether I was a good enough example for my daughter.  The question of whether my daughter deserved better was brought up several times by people, and it cut deep every time.  It was so hard to hear that people thought that the person I am was somehow going to damage my daughter because I was going to set a bad example for her.  It was demoralizing to feel like you were finally doing something right in your life just to hear that others thought simply by being yourself, you were going to destroy your kid in some way.  I cried over that.  I cried a lot.  I ugly cried.  It was a weight that sucked all of the oxygen out of a room.

I took a hard look at things after that, though, and realized that those people don't matter.  When I look at my daughter, she is bright, she's funny, she's intelligent, she's well adjusted, she's curious, she's social, she's loving and sweet.  If people think that I didn't have anything to do with any of that based on the example I set for her, then they're dead wrong.  A lot of those qualities are just in her nature, but they continue to grow and flourish due to my encouragement and the example I set for her to continue to be this way.  I set examples for her to solve problems for herself.  I set examples for her on how to interact with the people she loves.  My whole life is an example for my daughter, and so far I haven't done so badly.  So for people to comment on how she deserves a better example really just goes to show that they do not know my daughter at all, and deep down they probably also don't know me.  They don't know that I always put my best foot forward for those that I love, and that I desire nothing more in this world than to see my daughter have a childhood that looks the polar opposite of the one I had.  Those people who wanted to talk about me as a parent haven't actually watched me as a parent.  They've drawn their conclusions based on who I am away from my child, or who they think I am based on social media, and not who I truly am when I raise my daughter.  And honestly, that's their mistake, not mine. 

When I take inventory of how things have gone to this point, and how I've handled this life I've sort of fallen into, and I let a note of conceit fall into my thoughts and opinions, I can allow myself to say I'm a damn good mother.  I don't do everything right, but I certainly have more right than wrong under my belt.  I am not perfect, but my daughter is thriving, happy, and vibrant.  So can anyone ask more than that of a child as young as mine is?  My older daughter is also thriving, challenging herself, living a life that she once couldn't have imagined living.  Her boyfriend recently said that our family is what he uses as an example of what a family should be, and he hopes to have one as great as ours some day.  That's high praise.  Far more valid than the people who have criticized from the outside, since he's basically living at our house and sees every day life.  So, yes, I'm a good mom, and maybe I need to say that out loud more often because it's true.  I'll always make mistakes.  I'll always worry over whether I'm doing the right things.  But on the whole, I'm always working to be the best parent I could possibly be, and anyone who thinks that's not a good enough example well......I guess that's their problem.


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