"Every night before I get my one hour of sleep, I have the same thought: 'Well, that's a wrap on another day of acting like I know what I'm doing.' I wish I were exaggerating, but I'm not. Most of the time, I feel entirely unqualified to be a parent. I call these times being awake."
– Jim Gaffigan
Oh, how true that quote is. As I write, I have to walk into the nursery after about every fifth word to replace pacifiers, console and attempt to get my kiddos down for a nap. Some days, it happens easily. On those days, I try to mentally retrace my steps and remember every move I made, because apparently something I did actually worked. Of course, while there may be helpful tips and tricks that warrant repeating, there are plenty of days when nothing seems to work.
On the latter kinds of days, I feverishly look up information online. Bad idea. Don’t let them cry it out. Let them cry it out. Don’t rock them to sleep. Rock them to sleep. Babies need the comfort. Try nursing them. But if you nurse when they’re not really hungry your baby is going to expect you to come running and whip out a boob whenever they darn well please. Try giving them a bottle. But make sure to use this kind of bottle, not that kind. Pacifiers are good. No wait...they're not. They'll cause your child's teeth to be messed up forever, and your kid will be heading to college still sporting a binky. And on, and on and on…
Well, thank you, Internet for the plethora of contradictory tips you’ve provided.
(Ooooh – it just quieted down in the nursery as I write!)
My husband has started telling me to stop looking things up online - because no matter what, some article or doctor or whomever is going to suggest that however I’m doing it, it’s wrong. Or, maybe I’m doing something right – and then heaven forbid, I start being the one to tell others all the things they’re doing wrong.
But what the heck do I know? I feel completely unqualified as a parent. I stare at my little ones and pray that I don’t mess them up too badly. I’ve found helpful information in books and on the Internet, but the vast sea of clashing opinions tells me one thing: no one really knows what they’re doing.
If you’re a parent, you’ve most likely felt this way at one point or another (or maybe pretty much all the time). Perhaps you’ve searched the Internet desperately looking for a tried-and-true solution to whatever your family is going through. Don’t get me wrong...there are great resources out there, and some ways of doing things are definitely better than others. But maybe more than advice, what we really need our desperate parenting Google search result to say is, “You are doing a great job.”
The question of whether or not you're a good parent is not based on whether or not you've chosen to give your kids pacifiers. Or on how well your kids sleep at night. Or on whether you bottle fed or breastfed.
Sometimes we get so bogged down in the details of daily life that we easily get discouraged and question every single decision we make. We're never going to get it all right. Let's just admit that. (Of course, I'm not saying we don't try to get it right. It's essential that we seek help, ask advice, pray for wisdom and grow as a parent.) But let's give ourselves...and each other...a little grace.
Do you love your kids? Are you doing your best to care and provide for them? Then maybe at the end of the day what you need to hear more than advice is this:
You are doing a great job.