Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Are You the Best?

There was a poll on BabyCenter today that asked the question: "Do you consider yourself the best parent you know?" Sixty-eight percent said no.

For me parenting is a little like being bipolar. There is the side of me that secretly judges other parents and feels morally superior and the other side of me that is crippled by self-doubt. But judging by these poll results, I think that's probably a pretty common problem.

A friend of mine is a SAHM. Her daughter was fully potty-trained by 2 1/2, knows sign language and is super verbal. My friend made all her daughter's food from scratch, buys only educational toys, is religious about daily story time and used to cut out pictures of babies from magazines and make collages to show her daughter. I don't fully understand the point of the last one, but I'm sure it helps assist something developmentally desirable.

I know I will never be that mom. I look up at her on the pedestal I've put her on and think she's the perfect mom in so many ways. Some people might say - overbearing helicopter mom - but her daughter is one of the most well-adjusted polite, funny, smart kids I know. As much as part of me wishes I could be that, a larger part of me is exhausted even thinking about it. She gave me her baby cookbook when she was done with it. I've flipped through it a few times and looked at the pretty pictures.

I have another friend who is overwhelming burdened by her working mom guilt. The kind that makes it hard to see the forest from the trees.  She leaves the house before her kids wake up and she's home after they go to sleep. Her mommy-daughter quality time takes place in the wee hours of the morning while breastfeeding. In many ways it's a single parent household with her husband taking on the burden of most parenting duties. But she's also a really good mom. Her kids are smart, polite and adorable. She taught her son two languages even though she was the only parent in the house who spoke one of them.

We all have to learn to make it work for our own circumstances. For me, I feel lucky that I get one day home alone with my daughter every week. But I also feel guilty when sometimes I just want her to nap so I can watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians. I think I'm a good mom. But I don't think I'm the best. There are some things I would change, but there are also things I just know I will never do so I don't bother stressing about them (too much).

Mainly, I want what we all want - to not hand down too many neuroses and inflict psychological damage that results in years of future therapy.

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