Who Let Me Parent? Sage Advice from a Seasoned Mom

I was the first of my friends to get pregnant. There was no seasoned veteran around to call upon when my water broke at the end of that pregnancy game. Suddenly, I was the rookie expected to bring home a parenting victory (or at least make it a good game), and I had no freaking clue.

Even with all the unknowns of the time, I’m glad I started my parenting game in the age when everyone still saw What to Expect: The First Year and Grandma as the parenting resource of choice instead of the entire Internet and all of those on it with an opinion. As I watch new mothers today struggle to be all and do all in an age of way too many opinions and excessive mom judgment, I’m here to offer you a few words of encouragement.

This is what non-digital images and fear look like.

Do you love your kids, keep them mostly clean, and feed them on a regular basis? If the answer is yes, you’re doing just fine.

If that’s not enough for you, let me outline some of the reasons why moms today might wonder who in the world let me parent anyone. You’ll be patting yourself on the back for your superior mothering skills in no time.

I didn’t breastfeed my daughter. I tried, but she disrespected my boobs and sucked (pun intended) at getting out actual milk. I gave up and never looked back. My son would take any nipple offered, so it was a non-issue with him, and I never once felt guilty that one got breastmilk over the other. For the record, my daughter never gets sick, and my son catches anything within a 50-mile radius, so take that for what it’s worth.

Along those same lines, I never even considered making my own baby food. I produced breastmilk. Wasn’t that enough? I can’t help it that one kid refused my cooking. That’s on her.

Entertaining two under 2 in diapers with a ball-pit tent.

I sent my son to daycare at 8 weeks old. I was a working mom during a time when three months of paid time off for having a baby wasn’t even close to a guarantee. I had to work, so off he went. Yes, some days it sucked, but for eight hours, someone else changed diapers while I interacted with other adults. He was happy, loved, and totally fine.

At the ripe old age of 3, my daughter yelled, “F— it!” in a Target aisle because she couldn’t get a toy off the shelf. No, she did not learn that from some punk kid at daycare with morally corrupt parents. She learned it from me — and she used it correctly, I might add.

To this day, my kids still know the words to the JoJo’s Circus and Wiggles songs. Not because they’re in heavy rotation on their Spotify accounts, but because they sat in front of the TV watching those shows every day. For hours. I was a tired working mom with a toddler and an infant, so screen time was my friend.

I punished my children, and then gave in because I didn’t feel like dealing that day. Only to have them push more boundaries because I gave them the opening. It was the definition of lazy parenting, but they weren’t set out on a path of crime. I simply learned to fight another day.

My point in all of this isn’t to prove how chill I am as a mother (I’m far from it) or to make you question your choices — because those choices are 100 percent yours. My point is to say that no one parenting decision like the above will dictate your children’s overall and long-term well-being or happiness. You haven’t failed at being a mother because you made a choice that someone deems wrong or less than.

In spite of all the choices I made (right, wrong, or indifferent), my kids have survived well into their teenage years. They talk back, they think they know everything, and they drive me insane on a good day. You know, all the things teenagers do. They also love me in spite of my shortcomings and generally make good decisions when it comes to the stuff that matters.

In the midst of too much information and too many opinions, give yourself some grace, Mamas! If your toddler drops an F-bomb in the Target aisle, just shrug your shoulders at the judgy eyes while you sip your Starbucks and hand that kid an iPad.

Christie Pettus is a full time working wife and mother living her suburban cul de sac dream in Orange Park, Fl. She is Mom to two awesome teenagers, McKenzie and Ethan, who have come to accept that certain parts of their lives will be blogged about, so they should act accordingly. As graduates of the University of Florida, she and her husband Ryan can be found rooting on their alma mater every chance they get including the more obscure sports. LaCrosse anyone? When she’s not judging her kids' questionable teenage choices, she can be found hiding in a room buried in a good book or writing, editing, and dreaming about being a full-time author.

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