I remember when I had my first baby. There were so many decisions to be made! So many things to worry about. I felt nearly paralyzed by the choices. Breast or bottle? Organic baby food, or traditional? Use the swing? Carry that baby all day? Shoes or Bare feet?
It only worsened as that child grew older, and other children joined the family. Preschool? Homeschool? Hippie school versus public school versus Catholic school. This car seat versus that booster seat.
Vaccinations. Fluoride. Eyeglasses.
I vividly remember a conversation I had with an older mother. In it, I alluded to some of the questions I had as a young mom, and she laughingly tossed all my frustrations aside. "It doesn't matter what you do. It's going to turn out the way it's going to turn out, and if you're lucky, only one of you will end up in therapy. You will never do everything correctly. Go with your gut. And? Your kid will hate you for all of it."
I have always tried, to the best of my ability, to be an informed and educated parent. I've read so many books, attended seminars, listened to guest speakers, sought out advice, and really searched within myself to make those difficult decisions. Looking back, I laugh at the decisions I thought were so important. When that kid is a teenager, it doesn't really matter if you were of the "barefoot philosophy".
I have always tried to do my best – that's the point I'm trying to make. That is the main thing I want my children to know. Any decision that I've ever made, with regards to parenting them, it's always been with the thought of - do my best.
Kids can be mean to their parents though. And when they are – even though mentally, I know that it's part of the separation, part of the growing up, to separate themselves from the parent – it's still difficult to hear that even though you think you've done your very best, it was never enough. To hear all those difficult decisions tossed back in your face. To hear that in spite of all your efforts, it wasn't enough, it'll never be enough, and the things that you've done, the sacrifices that you've made, have not only not been appreciated, but in fact ridiculed – well, ouch.
There's no other way to put it.
The thing is, it's really easy to make a judgment. All of us do it, in any given situation. Because she spanked one and not the other, served Froot Loops for dinner, or sent one child to a progressive Montessori preschool while the other children stayed home. It's easy to criticize other people, on the decisions a parent might have made in the midst of a crisis. To say, "Well, so-and-so would have handled the situation THIS way, and so you are wrong. Wrong, Wrong, WRONG."
It's easy to say that someone else would have done a much better job.
There's no way to know that.
I guess, ultimately, what I want for my children are the gifts of patience, understanding, and empathy.
And the knowledge that their mother, guilty though she may be of many things – she tried her very hardest at what was a very difficult job with no instructions, no manual, and no warning label.