If you wanted to excel at something (say, crocheting for example), what would you do?
First, there is the theory of crocheting. You’d probably start by picking up some beginning crocheting books/magazines, following a couple blogs, and watching You Tube videos to get a basic understanding of what crocheting is and how it’s done.
After you know the theory, you then put that theory into practice. You might acquire some basic crocheting patterns, buy some yarn, and start learning those first basic stitches to get a feel for how you hold the hook and yarn. Then you practice, practice, practice.
Then comes advancement and expertise. As you get better, you start working your way through more difficult stitches and patterns. If you’re lucky, you might even have an experienced friend or family member who gives you a few pointers, tips, and tricks along the way. Over time, you would learn from your mistakes, know what works well and what doesn’t, and eventually you become an expert crocheter.
The same thing goes for athletes, scholars, doctors, and musicians, just to name a few.
But what about mothers?
For us, it’s a very similar path. First, there is the theory of parenting. At some point before our first child we study up on parenting and child rearing. We read books (who has read What to Expect When You’re Expecting?), follow pregnancy and parenting blogs (*cough, cough* Iowa City Moms Blog *cough, cough*), and probably even watch You Tube videos on things like how to properly install a car seat.
After we know the theory of parenting we can then begin with the practicing. We enroll in classes to help get a feel for how to change a diaper or to practice all the different ways to hold a baby while nursing. Maybe we help take care of a sibling’s or friend’s child. If we are lucky, we have an experienced friend or family member who gives us advice, tips, and tricks along the way. Then over time, we learn from our mistakes, know what works well (for us) and what doesn’t, and eventually we become expert mothers… right?
But that part about becoming an expert mother doesn’t really hold true. I’ve spent a majority of each day (if not the entire day) for four-and-a-half years being a mother. And I will confess to you today:
I STILL DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING!
You’d think spending so much time doing something for that many years I’d have it all figured out. But I don’t. And I know you don’t either. I know because I see you asking questions in the motherhood advice groups: “What’s the best ointment for diaper rash?” “How do I deal with my kid’s tantrums?” “How do I go about having ‘the talk’ with my son?” “Why does my baby cry so much?”
In this day and age of living our lives on social media, it’s easy to feel less than adequate, or like you’re the only one who doesn’t have it all figured out.
When we see, yet another, picture of Sally praising her kids for being adorably perfect, we forget that we didn’t see what came right before or after that picture was snapped. We don’t know that earlier that morning Sally had a huge argument with her oldest kid which resulted in doors slamming and privileges being taken away. We can’t see the huge pile of dirty laundry hiding behind her couch, or the stack of dirty dishes teetering on the kitchen counter. Because Sally only shows us a minuscule fraction of her life, we think she’s got it all figured out. But chances are good that she’s as clueless as the rest of us!
When I first set out to write this I wanted to come to you with some really great tips and advice for dealing with epic tantrums. But then I quickly realized I don’t have any because I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING. Then, in talking with some friends, I learned that they don’t know what they’re doing either!
So instead of tips and advice, I just want you all to know that it’s okay to feel like you have no idea what you’re doing and like you’ll never figure it out. Because the rest of us are feeling the exact same way. We may put on a good show, but behind it all, we are all just as clueless, and sometimes helpless, as you!