I’m about to deliver my firstborn kid to college. Gulp. It’s been a very reflective time, one where I’ve thought about all the monumental mothering mistakes and parenting blunders I’ve made these last 18 years. From those first few weeks home with a newborn where I thought I had to religiously count soiled diapers, to sweating way too much over multiplication tables and spelling tests, to the tumultuous teen years (when I was certain my son and I would never like each other again), all the shouldas, couldas, and wouldas have made their presence known again.
But guess what — I promptly kicked their asses to the curb because if I’ve learned one damn thing raising kids, it’s to fully accept something Maya Angelou said:
“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”
And, boy, do I know better now! Not only do I know how ridiculous diaper counting was, that failing a spelling test in third grade doesn’t mean my kid is doomed, and that teenagers one day wake up normal, I also know that all those parenting regrets I let my conscience entertain and fester into undeserved mommy guilt were a total waste of time. I did back then what I thought was best, what I knew how to do, and frankly, what got us through the day sometimes.
And that is something I am 100% done regretting.
Unfortunately for me and many other mothers, it takes many years to get to this point. But now that I’m here, I feel like shouting from the motherhood mountain tops: “Stop wasting your brain power on regretting parenting mistakes and decisions!” That’s right, moms! Just stop regretting because you’re doing great, OK?
Here are five parenting regrets you can stop having right now:
1. Infant Feeding Choices
Breastfed, formula fed, store-bought jarred food, organic homemade baby food. Listen people, all that shit does not matter because they were fed. Period. Eventually, they all end up living off of french fries, pepperoni pizza, Oreos, and Dr. Pepper during the teenage years so who the hell cares.
2. Too Much Screen Time
When I was sucker-punched with postpartum depression after my third baby, my first two got to enjoy 12 hours of PBS Kids and Nick Jr. per day for an entire year while I tried to basically survive one minute to the next. I was honestly grateful for a screen that actually babysat. Are they damaged? Not in the least.
3. Not Reading to Them Every Single Night Before Bedtime
I’m a librarian and well aware of the vital importance of this, and even I couldn’t manage to do this every damn night. Literacy guilt? Zero. Nada. What can you do? Let your kids see you reading and get over trying to provide story time seven nights a week.
4. Not Being at Every Single Sporting Event or Dance Recital
It’s logistically impossible with four kids (or even one sometimes!). Do they feel unloved because of it? Nope. Children understand they’re not the center of the universe, and they don’t need an approving audience every second of their life.
5. Working, Not Working, Working From Home, Working Outside the Home
This may be the biggest waste of parenting regret time ever. Did your bills get paid? Clothes on your kids’ backs? Food on the table? Good. The end.
My biggest regret? Continuously doubting my mothering skills all those years for no valid reason whatsoever. Finally my redemption has come in the form of a successful young adult headed out into the world. My biggest hope for him is that he doesn’t waste one second of his own life wallowing in any form of regret. Hopefully, he’ll know better.