Recently I’ve been thinking about the gifts my mom gave me throughout my childhood that have formed how I now mother my kids. A simple example of this is my love of cooking. When I was a kid, my mom made all of our meals, from scratch. I grew up watching her cook, learning techniques by osmosis, and developing a love of food and confidence in my kitchen abilities.
A more complex example is something that’s been on my mind and my heart a lot lately. I can’t recall my mom ever doubting her abilities as a mother. I’m sure she did, I’m sure she struggled (there were four of us hooligans, after all) but even though we saw her struggle, we never saw her lose confidence in her mothering abilities. She didn’t compare herself to other mothers. She didn’t blindly follow what other parents were doing. She read books and applied different parenting strategies, but she didn’t base her parenting on what other people in her life thought she should do, she based her decisions on her intuition, her research, and her experience.
I’ve felt the weight of others’ expectations on my parenting since day one. It’s impossible not to, especially now that we’re parenting with the bittersweet tool, the internet. It would be easy to get swept up in what other think I should do. But…I don’t care. And I think it’s because of my parents. I know they must have experienced judgment like we all do, and I’m guessing at times they had conflicting opinions about how to raise us, but they presented a united front and that’s stuck with me. When it comes to parenting our kids, the opinions of other people don’t matter. What matters is that we’re on the same team, we’re doing our best, and we’re doing what we think is right. I just don’t care what other people think of my parenting.
Now, I’m not totally enlightened. I get rattled when I feel like my parenting or my children are being judged. I feel angry and defensive and annoyed. But the negative feelings are fleeting and they don’t influence how I live my life. They don’t change the decisions I make, the same way other people’s opinions didn’t change the parenting decisions my parents made.
It’s possible my mom was too busy to care but I like to think that she’s bestowed upon me the gift of not giving a crap. And I hope my kids grow up and feel similarly.