I was talking to a mom client of mine about her parenting struggles. She finds herself more short-tempered than she’d like to be with her two young children. Tearfully, she confessed her fear that she’s not well-suited for motherhood.
It’s a common fear. Parenting presents challenges we never had to face before, and it highlights aspects of our personality that we might not be so fond of.
So what’s a mom to do?The first thing is to realize that these feelings are entirely normally. And the truth is, it’s impossible to be perfectly suited for the job of parenting at every stage in a child’s development.
What I mean is, each developmental stage a child goes through requires different skills from the parents. Sometimes, we happen to be equipped with just those characteristics that are needed–i.e., we’re qualified for the job.
And sometimes, we feel like we’re not up for the challenge. We’re organized and structured, and our toddler refuses to play along. Or we’re free spirited, but our preschooler really requires structure to thrive.
What I want moms to know is that there’s nothing wrong with them for finding a certain stage to be difficult. It is forcing them to go against their grain, and while that is an opportunity for growth, it doesn’t mean that it’ll ever feel really good.
Sometimes, as I told my client today, we just need to accept that we’re going to have to wear a shoe that doesn’t fit for while. We have to figure out how to make it fit the best it can.
The good news is, the foot is going to keep growing. (Okay, I’m straining a metaphor here, but you get my drift.) Our kids will keep progressing to the next stage, and we’ll growth and change and adapt ourselves as best we can, and ultimately, we’ll reach a stage that is more of a natural match for who we are.
The worst thing to do is beat yourself up for not naturally loving a certain stage, or for not being able to make a perfect adaptation. In parenthood, we’re called upon to do things that don’t necssarily jibe with our personality; the fact that we do them anyway is where the love comes in, and it’s where you need to give yourself credit for that, and for sheer perseverence.
Each stage–for better and for worse–comes to an end. In the meantime, maybe cut the toes out of those shoes.
Mother scolding son image available from Shutterstock.