"If I had known then what I know now…"

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Categories Mommy Issues

Last week, I wrote about my “failed” breastfeeding experience. I loved loved loved reading the comments. But one comment keeps popping up here, on my Babycenter birth boards, on my personal blog, and in conversations with my mom friends – “if I had known then what I know now.” It is said with a sense of regret, when things did not go as planned and the parent feels as if they could have done a better job with more knowledge, more planning, or more experience.

Here’s where I want to give the entire internet and mothering community a great big hug and say STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP. You are a good enough parent just as you are. Maybe every step of parenthood has not gone as you planned. Maybe you could have spent more time reading books, consulting doctors, talking to parents, and maybe just maybe things would have worked out exactly as you planned. Maybe. Maybe.

The reality of the situation is that a large majority of parenthood is on-the-job learning and mistakes are going to be made. I used to feel guilty about these mistakes, the small ones and the big ones. Some days being a parent of twins, my mistakes are amplified because I’m making them twice! The way I finally got my mommy guilt in check was to realize this: every day, I am doing all that I can to be the best parent that I can be. By no means am I perfect, but I’m giving it my all. I hold my head high because while things have not always worked out, I am out there trying hard every day to be a good mom. I take time to mourn the big things that did not work out, then move on to live in the moment with my boys.

What about you? Tell me how you get past the woulda-shoulda-couldas.

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7 thoughts on “"If I had known then what I know now…"”

  1. The best advice I ever got about parenting was to be a good-enough parent. (I believe there’s a book on this subject … yep, just found it on Amazon.com. It’s by Bruno Bettelheim.) Children raised by “perfect” parents never have a model of how to cope with their own imperfections. We can, and should, only be good enough. Of course, there’s a bar below which we cannot fall, but my husband and I have chosen to be the best parents we can be, rather than beating ourselves up for being the best parents, the ones we couldn’t possibly be. This doesn’t mean that there are no regrets, of course, but it does mean that we spend our energy on raising our kids rather than lamenting mistakes, when the choice is there.

  2. i give myself permission to feel what i feel, then i try to leave it there. the moments when i am not proud of my mothering or my response to certain situations have occurred and at those times i talk to my husband and he brings me back to reality…we have two and that makes the challenging times that much more challenging. it has been a lovely year and i find taking this approach to myself has really helped me be in the moment rather than reflect on our past.

  3. “and it came to pass” my family isnt particularly religious but this saying is something we have borrowed which works really well for us. my dad first said it to me when i was hiding under a table when i should have been completing my dissertation and we have used it on many an occasion when things get on top and we dont feel like we are achieving or being what we should be. you know that every feeling/ presumed failure you have feels less significant when reflected on in the future and to try to recognise that when you are in the moment can sometimes help to alleviate those feelings somewhat.

  4. As the wise animated Chicken Little so eloquently put it ‘today is a new day’. When I have a bad mothering day and go to bed feeling like a complete failure, I remind myself that when I wake up (whether in the morning or 2 hours after going to bed to attend to a screaming child) I have a clean slate and can be a fantastic mom starting ‘now’. I’ve made mistakes with my first child that I hope to not repeat with my twins. If I do better today than I did yesterday or last week or a year ago, I focus on the fact that I’m getting better!! Maybe by the time my kids are 18, I’ll have it all figured out and can then impart my (unsolicited) wisdom to my dear children.

  5. Great post Laura. I think the Mommy Guilt could eat you alive if you let it…lucky for most of us we realize that we are doing the best that we can and that is enough (most days) =)

  6. A friend’s father (whom I consider to be a very wise man) has the mantra:
    “Parenting is about making the right mistakes.”
    I try to remember this little ditty each time I feel the “mommy guilt” creep up. As parents, we ARE going to make mistakes….it is our opportunity to learn from them and turn them into the “right mistakes.”
    Thanks for the simple reminder…

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