I remember the shocking moment I first realized that I was a bad parent. It was actually the same day that I found out I was pregnant. Don’t get me wrong, I knew I wasn’t going to be a perfect parent. I just assumed that I would find out all the things I did wrong much later. I guess I imagined it would be on the Dr. Phil show while my teenager sat across from me, glaring, with her arms crossed.
But before I dive into how it was confirmed so quickly that I was terrible parent, let’s first go back to that day shall we. My husband and I had recently come back from our five year anniversary Maui trip. Life was beautiful. When I closed my eyes I could still feel the warm Hawaiian breeze on my face. I could still hear the waves. I could taste the shave ice and pineapple on my tongue. I dreamed a lot about pineapple in those few weeks. In fact, I noticed I had been dreaming a lot about food in general.
I began to notice other things too. I was suddenly tired all of the time and nauseous. I was extra emotional and my boobs were swollen. I couldn’t stop peeing. I finally decided on one of those trips to the bathroom to go ahead and pee on a stick to confirm that this was just an extra terrible case of PMS. Instead the stick told me I was pregnant. I was shocked.
I stumbled out of the bathroom and waved the wet stick in my husband’s face. We sat in silence for a minute just staring at the pregnancy test. Finally we looked up at each other and smiled. We were beaming. Joy overtook us like a wave. We were going to be parents!
After tearing up and laughing hysterically for a few minutes, I decided to google what to do next. I know that sounds weird but I had never been pregnant before and I wasn’t sure when I was suppose to go to the doctor. According to the site that I stumbled on, I was supposed to go to the doctor before I was even pregnant. Oops. This is when I learned I was already a bad parent.
The internet said if I was a responsible person I would have told the doctor ahead of time we were thinking to conceive. The doctor would have given me a physical to determine if I was even healthy enough to have a baby. But of course my irresponsible self didn’t know that at the time. I had a mom fail already and I wasn’t even an hour into this parenting thing.
As my belly grew, so did my curiosity about other things. What should I be eating? I thought it would just tell me not to consume alcohol and raw meat. Instead, I read articles about how eating peanut butter would give my unborn child allergies. But then the next one I read said that if I wanted to make sure my child didn’t end up with a deadly allergic reaction to peanuts I’d better consume some while I’m pregnant. Well, what do you know! There were more mom fails to add to my list.
My bad parenting got even worse. The internet told me that I’m a monster if I give my child vaccinations and a neglectful idiot if I don’t. It told me if I ever wanted my child to sleep through the night that I’d better let her cry it out. It also told me I’m emotionally damaging my child if I don’t co-sleep. It told me to breastfeed because its best for the child, but it didn’t warn me how hard (and painful) breastfeeding could be.
I finally decided to stop googling advice on parenting because I already had too many mom fails to deal with. Problem solved right? Nope. Because now my Facebook newsfeed was full of opinionated moms writing statuses and sharing articles about the best ways to parent, which coincidentally, was the same way they parented. It also just so happened to be completely opposite of the way I parented.
Then I would see filtered pics of my friends Pinterest-worthy lives. I would then look around at my life and see a messy house with rambunctious children. My friends were looking gorgeous while they cradled their baby and I couldn’t remember the last time I showered. I’m telling you, I was just the worst parent ever!
I called my mom crying one day. I confessed to her that I didn’t know what I was doing. I told her what friend on Facebook said I should be doing and what stranger on the internet thinks is best. Then I waited. I waited to hear her say what I already knew “ Wow, Megan. You’re a bad parent.”
Instead she said “You know, I feel sorry sometimes for you moms of this generation. We got to parent without the internet. We didn’t get bombarded with everyones opinions like you do. You aren’t a bad mom. It’s just not easy trying to co-parent with the internet.”
That conversation changed my life. It was the day I realized that although I wasn’t a perfect parent, I certainly wasn’t a bad one. So I’m here to encourage you the way my mom did for me that day. Listen Mama, stop comparing yourself. Stop holding your unfiltered life up next to those heavy filtered pictures. Stop telling yourself you’re a failure.
You got this! You may not be perfect, but you already have what it takes to be a good mom. It’s time to trust your own heart. Next time you see one of those articles telling you how bad of a parent you are, just smile and say “Thanks Internet, but I’ll take it from here.”