Motherhood: It’s All Relative

by Gigi Ross on May 29, 2013

Are you a strong mom? Do you brave parenting with the confidence of a battlefield general? Yeah, most of us don’t, huh? We seek parenting advice from everywhere and end up more confused than when we started. Chris from The Mom Cafe writes today about her own journey on how to find confidence in parenting.

 

how to build confidence 

I always believed motherhood was objective.  There were books and courses and instructions and rules.  It was a science I knew nothing about and I entered the journey terrified of getting the infamous equation right.  It was a desperate attempt on a daily basis, of seeking the right facts and figures and listening to all the experts in the market.  It was always a constant struggle to do the “right thing”, according to the laws of parenting.  With every misstep, I would crumble in fatigue and confusion.  Every detail of caring for a child was mapped out with guidelines and lists and critical reminders that I was not meeting the criteria of being a good mom.

 Bottle or breast?

Co-sleep or crib?

Organic or processed?

Cloth diapers or disposable?

Vaccinations or not?

Cold or flu?

How to feed, sleep, pick schools, encourage development, nap and even dress my little beloved creation…

Oh the list goes on and on, well into each stage and season of our children’s lives.  Each turn in the tumultuous path welcomed new information and answers and theories and directives… that always led to frustration and quiet turmoil within my desperate attempt to do this right.  I never did get it right.  I still don’t.

Along this winding road of questioning my ability as a mom, I slowly realized the critical and significant truth of it all…

Motherhood isn’t objective at all.

It’s all relative:  “Considered in relation or in proportion to something else”.

Oh.

As the days and weeks and months and years streamed together with constant contemplation over every tiny detail of my ability to parent… I slowly disengaged from the pursuit of the legalities in it all.  The gripping bondage of my insecurities and questioning slowly slipped each day, as I realized that those rules and instructions were merely all “considered in relation or in proportion to something else”.

I am officially liberated from those chains of defeating insufficiency.  I have grown confident in my right to choose and parent how I see fit.  And those books and courses and opinions of others, will be read and absorbed and sometimes carefully considered.  But the ultimate decisions about caring for my children are made solely by me.

I am worthy of that.

And Lord knows, my own instructions and rules slip in and out like a waterslide or mudslide… depending on the trial.

But that’s okay.

I embrace my purpose with quiet dignity and above all, grace.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful, if everyone else did too?  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all realized that our walks on the parenting path were all relative and the only truth we needed dwelled within us all?  Oh, I dare to dream of a time when judgments were replaced with acceptance, and passionate arguments were replaced with loving sentiments.

There simply is no right or wrong.

It’s all relative. 

Chris Carter is a SAHM of two pretty amazing grade school kids.  She has been writing at The Mom Cafe for over two years, where she hopes to encourage mothers everywhere through her humor, inspiration and faith.  You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+.

Watch Moms Talk About Confidence In Parenting LIVE

We’re taking this important conversation to G+ Hangouts on Air tomorrow night, 5/30 at 6 p.m. PST/9 CST. Check out the live stream at that time – but you can RSVP now!

Panelists:
Christine Carter | http://themomcafe.com
Stephanie Totty | http://froggyandthemouse.com
Jessica Watson | http://www.fourplusanangel.com
Debbie Anderson | http://www.sandiegomomma.com
Nicole Hempeck | http://www.momentsthatdefinelife.com
Tina Seitzinger | http://www.lifewithoutpink.com
Ashley Fitting | http://www.itsfitting.com
Robin Farr | http://www.farewellstranger.com

{ 47 comments }

Jessica May 29, 2013 at 5:08 am

Looking forward to talking about this. There really is no “right” way other than trusting our own instincts.

Chris Carter May 29, 2013 at 8:11 pm

I hear ya Jessica! it’s really all about believing in what you know is best for your own child. I look forward to talking more about this tomorrow night! Thanks so much for joining in on the chat!

Alison May 29, 2013 at 6:22 am

I question myself all. the. time. I’m only 3 1/2 years into this, and have never been so unsure in my life. I look forward to watching the discussion!

Chris Carter May 29, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Oh gosh Allison! At that time I was a complete MESS about what the heck I was doing with my kids! I still think those younger years are the hardest. Everything is still so new and each day brings more questions.
So glad you will be there for the chat!! :)

Lynn@ForLoveOrFunny May 29, 2013 at 6:26 am

I think as my kids have gotten older, I’ve grown more confident. Ultimately, kids are very resilient…and forgiving! :)

Chris Carter May 29, 2013 at 8:14 pm

I feel the very same way Lynn! As each year unfolds… I grow more confident in my parenting and all the choices I make for my kids. Those beginning years were much tougher to figure out… thank GOD our kiddos are very resilient and forgiving!! 😉

Anastasia @ eco-babyz May 29, 2013 at 7:38 am

Wonderfully written post! Thankfully I’m the type of person that doesn’t care what anyone else thinks – I read everything and go with my own instincts. I don’t care much for experts. I choose what works well for my family. My problem was understanding that not all parents have the confidence that I do and I need to respect them and be gentle in giving any advice. It’s really hard not to make other moms ‘feel guilty’, it’s like they ask for my opinion and when I give it to them they either call me judgmental or a ‘know-it-all’ so now I find myself constantly infusing all advice with a politically correct disclaimer that ‘this works for me but may not be right for you’ – because that’s the truth. I don’t know why I’m confident in my parenting (not 100% of the time of course). Is it the way I was raised? My spiritual beliefs? I don’t know, I wish I could say, it’s more a combination of all things. Most times I just know what I want and what my kids need. Now if only I could find some work/life balance as a WAHM… :) This working while the kids sleep isn’t working well!

Chris Carter May 29, 2013 at 8:18 pm

You are my HERO Anastasia!! I just love moms like you that have the natural confidence and simply know what you’re doing and feel comfortable in your own skin. I have always struggled with anxiety, so the doubting and the stress of making the “right choices” was such an overwhelming experience.
I seriously can’t imagine trying to be a WAHM with kids in the home. KUDDOS to you for trying!! That has got to be tough…

Michelle May 29, 2013 at 9:05 am

There really is no right or wrong. What’s right for me is going to be completely off base for someone else. The one thing I will say is to trust your gut feelings…a mother’s instinct is almost always right!

Chris Carter May 29, 2013 at 8:22 pm

Amen to that Michelle!!! Sometimes I think I dismissed my own instincts because the weight of all the other voices telling me what to do drowned it out. I almost lost my voice because it was so weak and scared at first… with time and growing confidence, that changed. Really, no one knows the right decisions about raising and caring for children better than the parents themselves.

another jennifer May 29, 2013 at 9:57 am

At some point, I realized that I didn’t always agree with my doctor or the books or other parents when it came to raising my children. And that was okay. While I seek out the advice, I know that I’m the one that knows my children best. Seems like it took a long time to get there, but I am so much more confident in my parenting abilities now. It really is all relative! What a great post, Chris. I can’t make the hangout, but I’ll watch later. Sounds like it’ll be a great discussion!

Chris Carter May 29, 2013 at 8:37 pm

It took me a long time to get there too, Jen! I think as time goes on and we realize that we truly do know what’s best for our kids, our confidence grows. Oh those early years were so emotional and scary for me… I wish I had the courage and the conviction to assert myself more, and consequently have more peace of mind in caring for my babes.

Mary @ A Teachable Mom May 29, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Great choice – writer and topic – Gigi! Chris, I’ll borrow your grace and wisdom and trust my parenting today. Thank you!

Chris Carter May 29, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Oh Mary, thank you so much my friend!! You go and TAKE your own wisdom and grace and trust your parenting today sweet dear mama! It’s in you… 😉

Tammy May 29, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Oh Chris, how true! And how grateful I am for that truth! After each of my little blessings – who were born many years apart – I struggled through some degree of postpartum blues, and it always had me second-guessing my instincts as a mommy. Add to that everyone’s “advice” (aka: expectations) for me and I would almost crumble! Thank God for His leadings and grace to be the mom HE called me to be to MY children. I knew everyone meant well but I had to learn to trust myself and my instinct, and to graciously disagree with some of my friends/relatives. I’m so glad I did.
: ) My kids are great (not perfect!). Of course I didn’t do it alone, I have an awesome husband!

Chris Carter May 29, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Oh Tammy- I couldn’t have said it any better!!!! I struggled just like you, in perhaps different circumstances, but the same emotional journey…
You DID do it girl!! And your children are blessed because of every decision and turn you made for them. They are darn near CLOSE to perfect!! And having an amazing hubs certainly helped! :)

Ilene May 29, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Chris, this is a beautiful article with so many truths. I love it all – but especially the idea that we CAN make our OWN decisions as parents – because we are worthy of that. What a wonderful lens in which to see that truth. Thank you for giving all of us a vote of confidence as parents!

Chris Carter May 29, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Oh how I love your beautiful words Ilene!! Every parent deserves that kind of encouragement and respect. We all do our best to make the right decisions for our children, and we are all worthy of having confidence in our parenting…

Julie DeNeen May 29, 2013 at 2:20 pm

I wish every new and soon to be mom could read this. It’s so difficult to be a parent without all these horrible expectations that we put on ourselves. Great post!

Chris Carter May 29, 2013 at 8:53 pm

Thanks so much Julie. I too, wish new moms could really take this to heart. It’s so scary and confusing, to begin the journey of parenting because it is really all about trying to figure out what works for your child and family. And there are so many voices that try to tell you what to do. Oh how I wish I had more confidence and security back in those early days…

Shell May 29, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Oh Chris, I totally agree. My own three boys need different things from me as a mom, so that really helped me to realize there is no one right way. If three boys who live in the same house, have the same parents, and are super close in age need different things, then how could someone else tell me what is the one right way? Nonsense.

Chris Carter May 29, 2013 at 8:45 pm

EXACTLY Shell! Your boys are living proof of this truth! Each precious child comes into this world unique in every way… and we care for them accordingly! No one knows their kids better than their parents. We need to trust that.

Robin | Farewell, Stranger May 29, 2013 at 8:18 pm

I think if I had known that there was no one right way to do things – that if only I could find the magic method my child would sleep, for example – my early months of being a mom would have been much different.

Now that I have a second child, I’m finding it much easier to trust my instincts instead of checking the books and asking on the forums and questioning myself every second. Hallelujah!

Chris Carter May 29, 2013 at 8:49 pm

Oh Robin, I SO get what your saying!! With my second, I felt so much more confident in my choices having struggled to please so many others with my first- not to mention just struggling to figure it all out.

The second time around is really that much easier because we gain more confidence in our mothering instincts and there is that realization that there is no right way to do things. Good grief, if only I knew that with my first!! Sleep? None. Oh that was hard… I get you. 😉

Marcia May 30, 2013 at 4:58 am

So relieved! You feel at times that you are alone in the struggles as a mom — can be so lonely at times (and so overwhelmingly stressful). BUT also rewarding! Thank you for sharing — you lift me up dear friend. Thank you!

Chris Carter May 30, 2013 at 11:11 am

There truly is comfort in knowing we are not alone!! We all need to help and support each other through this journey- oh, how I am so grateful for friends like you!!

Erin Pascal May 30, 2013 at 6:05 am

I agree with this 100%. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to parenting. It’s all up to you how you raise your kids and you are the one who knows what ways suits them right. Thank you for sharing this wonderful blog! :)

Chris Carter May 30, 2013 at 11:13 am

Thanks so much Erin!! Each of us has our own story in parenting with individual characters placed in our family with completely different needs. There truly is no wrong or right way… each journey is completely unique!

Sharon Greenthal May 30, 2013 at 8:45 am

I’m the mother of two grown kids (21 and 23) and the most important thing I learned after dealing with all of these issues is to pay attention to your children’s individual personalities and let that help guide you as you make parenting decisions. Obviously you need to keep a code of ethics and conduct that is important to your family, but each child has such unique needs and ways of being in the world. It doesn’t get much easier as they get older, but YOU get more comfortable with yourself and your children.

Chris Carter May 30, 2013 at 11:59 am

I always love having friends with older kids, because they seem to have such wisdom and confidence through enduring and braving the world of parenting for longer than I!!! I feel that as the years progress, I am feeling more comfortable in my own parenting abilities and instincts. Thanks so much for sharing Sharon!

Hope May 30, 2013 at 8:52 am

This is such a great post. It is all relative as you so poignantly stated. We are the ultimate decision maker for our children…and we are worthy of that. I so agree. Books, advice and counsel only acts as guidelines, but it’s up to us. Love your confidence Chris.

Chris Carter May 30, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Thank you so much Hope! It really is all about our own choices and having confidence that we know our kids best. It took so many difficult tumultuous and terrifying years to finally figure this out! I am still on shaky ground at times, but the past reflects that growing strength in awareness and I am always building more confidence as I go forward on this mothering path. I know there will be times I have no clue- but I feel I am worthy of an opinion and Derek and I are the ultimate voice in parenting decisions along the way.

Mothering From Scratch May 30, 2013 at 12:02 pm

{Melinda} Oh, I love this Chris! This is really the whole purpose of our blog. Helping moms find the mothering recipe that is unique and best for them and their children. Beautifully said, Chris! So exciting to see you have the opportunity to be featured on the Google Hangout panel. What a blessing you will be there! :)

whencrazymeetsexhaustion May 30, 2013 at 12:10 pm

As always, Chris, inspirational and right on the money! Parenthood is about the journey, not the destination. Unless the destination is Boca, because I’m about ready for that now 😉

Chris Carter May 30, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Thanks so much for your sweet words Stephanie! Can I come with you???!!!! PLEASE!!!! Seriously. Lets. Go. NOW. 😉

OneMommy May 30, 2013 at 6:28 pm

As always, a wonderful post!
Yes, it is all relative.
I started off with all those parenting books, too, just hoping to get it right — and it comes down to what’s right for me, the child in question, and that moment.

Chris Carter May 30, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Thanks so much, my friend! You got it – “and it comes down to what’s right for me, the child in question, and that moment.” EXACTLY. :)

Tricia May 31, 2013 at 2:43 am

Love this – sad I missed the discussion!
I’m coming around to this now that I’ve had my second. Something about going through if all before helps me relax about things like feeding and sleeping and that’s so nice. But then my three-year-old still goes through things for the first time and I find myself looking for the right answers all over again. And forgetting that there is no right and wrong.

Chris Carter May 31, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Well you might be in luck Tricia… we may try the chat again!
I totally agree that when the second child comes into the picture, it’s so much easier because you have braved the new world once before!!

My first child (like yours) will always be the test of my mothering, as she enters new seasons I still try to navigate with innocent ignorance! 😉

The Dose of Reality May 31, 2013 at 8:23 am

Oh, this is so true. It really does take awhile to realize that parenting does happen in relation to other factors. What works for one person doesn’t for another because their kids (and circumstances) are just different. It can really make you feel insecure that you aren’t doing exactly what someone else is doing or that their method just doesn’t work for you and your family. It took awhile to realize that but once you do….whew! (I also think it makes you much less apt to throw down absolutes to other people that could make *them* feel insecure because you realize it just doesn’t work that way)

Chris Carter May 31, 2013 at 3:53 pm

I am with you on all of that Ashley!!! No wait, Lisa!! No wait… Ashley! I usually can tell who it is by your words…but this one is a toughy!! lol

I love how you put that- “I also think it makes you much less apt to throw down absolutes to other people”…

SO true!!! I do wish everyone really “got that” and took to heart that every parent has their own unique child and situation.

Michell May 31, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Oh so true Chris!! It is all relative, isn’t it? It can get so confusing with everyone giving their advice and opinion! As long as our kids are nurtured by us and they grow up to be well-rounded, then our job has been successful. Besides, God knew exactly what He was doing when He gave them to us. I do believe without a shadow of a doubt Chris, if we’re sincere about raising our kids, God will step on the scene to give us the wisdom we’ll need to parent effectively! Thanks my friend for sharing so eloquently, as only you can do! Have a wonderful weekend hon! xoxo

Chris Carter May 31, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Thank you SO much Michell… I could soak in your wisdom all day. I am so thankful and relieved that I have God’s help in this precious and incredibly challenging journey!!

Katy @ Experienced Bad Mom June 1, 2013 at 6:06 am

Chris, you know I’m so with you on this. The strive to be the perfect parent making all perfect decisions is why I laugh at it all and blog as “Experienced Bad Mom”!

I really loved this part of your post: Oh, I dare to dream of a time when judgments were replaced with acceptance, and passionate arguments were replaced with loving sentiments.

Sending loving sentiments your way as a real mom doing her best!

Chris Carter June 3, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Thanks SO much Katy. I am sending those loving sentiments right back to you, and how I just love your “experienced Bad Mom” posts!!! You know I usually “one up” you as only a loving NON judgy and certainly Experienced Bad Mom would!!! 😉

Kari Day June 3, 2013 at 10:45 am

Oh you are so right about this Chris. Before I had my own children I had spent many years caring for other peoples tiny infants. This was great experience for having my own children… I would say I had a great leg up on most first time moms. HOWEVER, with that advantage came my complete and utter confidence that I KNEW exactly what WAS the way to do it. As you can imagine I had a bit of pride to swallow, and humility to accept. God made sure that I got kids that challenged every.last.thing. that I was judgmental about. Great post today Chris!

Chris Carter June 3, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Oh yes Kari… God has a way of giving us a big ol’ mouthful of pride to swallow when it comes to that lovely trait!!! Oh humility!!! Motherhood is the launching ground for sweet humble pie, now isn’t it??? :)

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