There is an NHS advertisement poster which I see whenever I ride a local bus. A photograph of a new mother clutching her tiny, newborn baby, and the caption “Am I doing it right?”. Everythime I see this, I think to myself, does any mother ever stop asking that question to herself?
I remember as a new mother myself, wanting to ask that question constantly. Leaving the hospital two days after J was born was a scary experience. I was going to be on my own, with this fragile being, and I was supposed to see that he came to no harm, and that he was content. What if it went wrong? What if I discovered I couldnt do it? What if I made a mistake? Although my confidence grew as time went by, and I started to realise that it wasnt all that scary most of the time, that I could actually do this, I never really stopped asking myself “Am I doing it right?”. From breastfeeding, bathing and weaning to sleeping, potty training and starting school. Soon it will be puberty, exams and alcohol, and it will probably never stop. .
There really is no such thing as a perfect parent. No matter how good a mother or father anyone is, there will always be mistakes made, there will always be decisions which turned out to be the wrong ones. We really just need to give ourselves some slack. Even if your child does grow up to resent something about their childhood, it doesnt mean you were a bad parent, and it doesnt mean you love your child any less than any other parent.
We need to be proud of ourselves, and know that it doesnt matter how many times you have to ask the question “Am I doing it right?” or even how many times you realise that the answer is “no”, you are still doing a pretty awesome job of it. You dont have to be perfect, you dont even have to try to be perfect, you’re doing just fine, and thats ok.
Netmums.com has named 2011 as the year of the Real Parenting Revolution. Now, Netmums has always been amazing, but this is quite probably the most amazing thing they have done yet. In their words:
“The year when mums and dads across the country can breathe a sigh of relief as the expectation of being a “perfect parent” is finally lifted from our shoulders. It’s time to feel good about ourselves for simply being good enough.”
Take a look and see for yourself. May a weight be lifted from your shoulders.