As a mom of three, my days are far from effortless. I’m still trying to figure out how to get three kids—four and under—in bed at the same time without too much drama. And now one of them is a preschooler which is totally foreign to me.
Basically, I have no idea what I’m doing.
Still, there's something to be said about who I am today versus who I was when I first became a mom. When I think about myself as a brand new mom, I'm reminded of someone full of insecurities who was letting fear run the decisions about what type of mom she wanted to be.
It’s not that I think I’ve arrived. It’s more of a feeling that, even though I struggle and make mistakes, I no longer have to explain my choices to anyone. It’s like I’ve found my sweet spot. I know what I want for my kids and my family and I generally know how I want to parent my kids on a day-to-day basis.
It hasn’t always been this way. There was a time, when I was a new mom of one, when I took every comment or suggestion about parenting to heart. Criticism from others moms or family members was a like dagger to the heart. I was so new to motherhood, so unsure of each day, each decision I made, that a single well-timed remark was enough to send me into a spiral of anxiety. Was I screwing up my kid? Was I doing everything wrong?
It’s not that I care any less about being a good mom, I've just redefined what that looks like.
I remember anxiously watching other moms at the park, wondering if they were noticing that I wasn’t quite sure how to handle a tantrum. I would literally sweat when I had to nurse in public, not because I was worried that I would be judged for breastfeeding, but because I was worried other moms would notice that I was uncomfortable and awkward trying to get my daughter to latch. How obvious was it that I had no idea what I was doing?
Thank God things have changed.
It’s not that I care any less about being a good mom, I've just redefined what that looks like. I know better now than to let insecurity fuel my parenting decisions because if another mom is judging me, they’re not the type of mom I need on my team anyway. I’m now 100 percent sure that being a good mom isn’t anything anyone else can decide for me. It’s between me and my kids, and no one else.
Here’s the thing: this didn’t really happen overnight. It’s not like I’m an amazing mom so I never worry about what people think. I’m an OK mom who really loves her kids but also makes a lot mistakes. It was making peace with my imperfection that gave me the freedom to parent without pressure to explain my choices. It was only accepting who I was as a mom and making improvements based on the standards I knew were right for my family that allowed me to dig my heels in without caring one bit who approved of my choices.
I’ve got a long way to go, but three kids has taught me that moms don’t have to explain their choices to anyone. Period. That goes for the mom of three and the mom learning how to care for her very first baby. By all means, do your research and ask for advice, but once you've made up your mind, don’t let anyone make you doubt your ability to decide what's best for your baby.
Because you're the boss and that's all there is to it.