I’ve never felt that I was good enough.
Growing up I felt overly critical of myself in almost every facet of my life. I wasn’t smart enough, thin enough, sweet enough, or friendly enough.
I dreamed of many transformations that were impossible to attain. I would exercise myself to thinness, but I didn’t factor in my genetics or body type, or the fact that I was perfect just the way I am.
I would study hard and become a psychologist. It didn’t matter that math and sciences were of no interest to me, and I would much rather curl up with a book and a pen. I denied myself an education in English or Journalism, believing that I would never be able earn an income as a writer. I didn’t think I was good enough to be paid for the words I wrote.
I wasn’t sweet or friendly enough. I was awkward and uncomfortable in social situations, and struggled to make friends. I didn’t have smart quips or funny jokes, and thought if I just studied the people I wanted to be like hard enough, I could manage to fit in.
When I became a mother I felt like some kind of imposter. I didn’t feel like I could measure up to all of the other mothers in the world. I was so young and inexperienced. When my first daughter was two weeks old I cried inconsolably, because I was too afraid to slip her onesie over her soft fragile head.
What kind of mother am I?
I have asked myself this over and over in the six years I’ve been a mother. When my children have been the only misbehaving kids in a sea of children, when I’ve failed at sleep training, and my kids have refused to eat anything but toast.
“Your kids are so picky.”
“Your kids sleep terribly.”
“Your kids have so much energy.”
I’ve heard these phrases said hundreds of times. And every single time the words have translated as one message to me.
You are not good enough.
Articles are everywhere telling mothers how to train their children to be better eaters, sleepers, and more well-behaved. I ate them all up, reading and attempting to employ the techniques. I even became the author of some of these articles, telling other mothers how to be better.
But lately I have become worn out of the do-better motherhood manual. It’s a never-ending cycle, and no matter what I can never measure up to the perfect ideal.
Yes, my kids are picky eaters. But we are celebrating the small victories, and employing the simple techniques that we know to help our children overcome their food aversions. We are doing our very best.
Yes, my kids aren’t the best sleepers. But I am proud of the way that I have mothered them through the night, and can confidently say that sleep training is not something that fits our family.
Yes, my kids are very energetic. That’s a combination of nature and nurture, and our belief that childhood is a gift that shouldn’t be stifled. Our kids are expected to be respectful, but they aren’t expected to act like little adults. I love their little personalities and active imaginations, and their energy fuels me every single day!
I am naturally wired to constantly try and be a better version of myself, and I don’t think that’s a battle I’ll ever overcome. But I am learning that the version I am right now is pretty awesome. I am doing the best that I can, and my best is more than good enough.