My New Vision For Parenting Isn't Perfection

by Connie Whitehead
Originally Published: 
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Becoming a mom made me want to be the best version of myself for my children. I want to be a model of what a good person looks like. I want our home to be their favorite place. I want to help them grow into loving, responsible, happy, and successful people. Before having my children, I had a clear vision of what all that looked like.

I saw myself as the mom who danced out of bed in the mornings and rushed off to the kitchen to prepare a hearty breakfast before rubbing those sweet little cheeks to wake them for school. I would never yell because my loving influence would be a big enough motivator. We would stay busy with family fun—parks, zoos, weekend getaways, family game nights, and of course, an annual Disney World vacation. I imagined making it to every school function because nothing would ever take precedence over my children. I would help them with their long division, and we would talk about our day at dinner. I had motherhood and parenting all figured out. Life, however, has a way of modifying the plan.

I never planned to space my pregnancies five years apart, and I certainly didn’t expect to have twins, but that’s our reality. Now with a 7-year-old and two 2-year-olds, my life is often about trying to find a balance between structure and spontaneity. Adventure might have to be a trip to a nearby park, so we can get home for naps on time. Mornings often consist of two grumpy toddlers clinging to my legs while I remind my son (again) through clenched teeth to put on his shoes so we can get to school. After-school events are limited to ones where a little more noise is tolerable and we can still get home by 7 p.m.

For a long time after my twins came, I struggled with feeling like I was failing my children. I was too tired to be completely happy. Caring for two babies in the first year can be a lot more work than fun, but I felt far too guilty to ever say those words out loud and allow myself a support system. On top of that, denying my older son something because it didn’t fit into our schedule or budget felt like a betrayal to him. After all, he didn’t ask for this huge life change, yet here it is.

The joys of being a mom were overshadowed by the fear that I wasn’t doing a good enough job until I came to a major realization—my kids love their life. I watched them play together and could see that they are complete. My twins love to be wherever their big brother is, and my older son loves his role as big brother.

I thought about how much things have progressed for us as a family over the last two years. There was a time when a simple trip to the grocery store was anything but simple, and I remembered how we had been stuck at home during the first year to accommodate sleep and feeding schedules. Now I can toss a few juice boxes and some goldfish crackers in my purse and head out for a playdate.

I see that our life is becoming much more manageable, and I had an epiphany about my sweet little boy. He understood better than I did that the seemingly constant nos would soon turn to yeses. He didn’t mind that we didn’t make it to reading night at school when his brothers were too young to sit quietly through it. He knew carnival night was coming up, and they would have a venue to act their age. He doesn’t mind having movie nights at home rather than going to the theater, as long as I let him eat popcorn and fall asleep in my bed. I was wasting time feeling guilty about things they don’t even think about.

Kids want to love and be loved. They want to feel secure and happy. My kids have that. When I learned to stop punishing myself for not making their lives the fantasy I had played out in my head for so many years, I was able to appreciate the gift of being their mommy. I don’t have to load them in the car for a daily adventure or spend tons of money to make them happy. I need to simply make each day count. Maybe today that’s blowing bubbles in the yard and scribbling with chalk on the driveway. Maybe tomorrow it’s feeding horses at the petting zoo. The most important thing is for them to know that they are my greatest treasures and that I love them more than life. That is my new vision.

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