Photo Courtesy Reghan Hailey
I've been a mom for two years and a day, so I'm basically a professional now. In these two years, I've learned the trick to being an excellent parent. Lucky you; I'll tell you my secret: Let it go.
Yes, Elsa got it right. Just let the wind carry that heavy cape of pressure to be perfect off into the dark, cold abyss. Who can carry that thing around? I'd rather have the sheer, sparkly train of self-acceptance anyway. More often than I previously realized, I just need to tell myself to let it go. It's not that I can really do it all and I'm just constantly failing, it's that I can't do it all. People have a lot more babies than I do, and they're still alive! Somehow! Instead of focusing on everything I haven't accomplished and blaming myself for things I can't control, I need to take my own advice and adopt a can-do attitude. I can be a loving mom. I can keep my sense of self. I can be greatly refreshed by tiny amounts of what people refer to as "rest". (Though I've forgotten what that is, exactly.)
Since I'm less than two weeks away from the due date of my second baby, I can't be held responsible for anything I say, thanks to pregnancy brain and mombie-level exhaustion. However, I'll stand by the lesson I've learned about priorities in recent weeks. Not only have I learned it, but I've accepted, embraced, and even delighted in it. I've heard so often in life that "happiness is a choice" and that always made me angry. It still does, actually. What kind of advice is that? It's only constructive to people who are already happy.
Well, I fell into the trap of being so overwhelmed in life that my options were to have a robotic shut-down or to drop the things I was dragging along and demand happiness from myself. As it turns out, I'm way too emotional these days to shut down at all. So, I took all the things at which I "fail" and decided to forget them. I let go of my daughter's missed naps and unbrushed teeth and failed potty training attempts. I let go of anticipated judgment I was avoiding before it even came. Despite my nature, I even let go of trying to analyze the words or actions of others and how they fit into my life. I stopped taking everything so seriously, so I can focus on what matters.
The fact is that bad parents don't constantly wonder if they're good enough. Bad parents aren't worried if their kid has too much candy, if missing a bath could be fatal, or if it's considered child abuse to still let them have a bottle at bedtime. I don't know how it's been before now, but I'm parenting in a time where people are offended by everything. Most of the stories we read are intended to scare or anger those of us who are just trying to do the best we can. Am I doing the best I can by constantly criticizing myself and measuring my performance as a parent based on how much or little I screw up? No.
So, learn from Elsa. I promise you won't be leaving a whole town in an eternal winter when you do. I mean, Disney isn't reality. Just look at our hair. But let that go, too. Go for the sheer and sparkly train of self-acceptance instead of the heavy, serious cape of negativity. (You'll have spot-on metaphors when you're a pro parent, too. And your kids will always understand and appreciate them and not once roll their eyes at you, ever.)