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It's True, I'm a Mom and I Have No Idea What I'm Doing

Photograph by Twenty20

Before I became a mother I knew exactly how to be one. I had it all planned out. I knew how I would discipline, what I would feed my kids, how to entertain them without screens, and the list goes on.

When my son was born I stuck to my guns and never deviated from my plans on how to be a mom. Even when certain things didn't seem to be going as planned, I was rigid. As time has gone on, and we've added another child to the mix—one who is so very different from our firstborn—I've realized that I have no idea what the hell I'm doing.

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It can be discouraging making this realization. I can't tell you how often I've felt like a failure. Why can't my kids just listen? Why can't I get off this couch? Why can't I think of a single activity to keep them busy for longer than 10 minutes? Why won't they eat this delicious and nutritious dinner I made for them? How do I handle this intense tantrum? How can I make them understand that they should respect me? What am I doing wrong?!

How do I parent these children?!

Maybe none of us really know what we're doing.

But the truth is, it's kind of freeing. I have no idea what I'm doing, but somehow it's all OK. My kids are still growing, learning, thriving. At the end of the day they still love me and shower me in hugs and kisses. It's a humbling experience and has lifted a lot of weight from my shoulders.

I've realized that I don't have to be the perfect mom. I don't have to get it all right. I can make mistakes and learn from them. I can apologize and figure it out as I go. I can change directions and strategies if something doesn't seem to be working. I can ask others for advice and wisdom.

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It's also made me more compassionate to other moms. Maybe none of us really know what we're doing. Maybe that's why that frustrated mom loses it and yells at her kid at the grocery store. Maybe that's why that toddler is chugging on some soda. Maybe that's why that kid isn't buckled in correctly in their car seat. Instead of immediately judging and shaming that mom, I think to myself, "Maybe she just doesn't know." And I start wondering how I can lovingly come alongside her to help her out or even just cut her some slack.

All I really know is that I don't know much. Maybe I don't have motherhood all figured out, but my kids are loved and they know it. If anything I'll make sure to save up some money for their future therapy sessions.

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