If you’ve been a mom or dad for more than three minutes you’ve most likely experienced the guilt that comes with parenting.
Suddenly you see life through the lens of “Am I doing enough? Are they happy? Healthy? Do they know I love them?”
It’s natural to worry from time to time. It shows that you do love your child and want what’s best for them. Indeed I believe that being fearful you’re not doing enough, feeling like a “bad” parent, actually means you’re a fantastic parent. If you were a sincerely bad parent you wouldn’t give your parenting practices a single thought. So since you do wonder if you you’re doing a good job, it means you’re doing a good job.
However, I can say those confusing words to a parent a million times and it still won’t sink in because so many of us feel like we’re not doing enough with or for our kids. We’re not doing enough to show them we love them and how much we care. I’m here to put an end to that false belief.
If you’re feeling down, ask yourself if you’ve done any of the items on the list below.
If you can say “yes” to at least one (and I’m sure you can) believe me when I say you’re doing great.
1. You hug your child. Affection is so important. It’s a physical manifestation of how you feel about them. I think we can all agree the first time our son or daughter gave us a kiss we were on cloud nine for days. There’s something special about physical contact like a hug or kiss or even an impromptu tickle fight. They say actions speak louder than words and your affectionate actions definitely tell your child you love them.
2. You make a mess. The majority of children like messy things, am I right? Splashing in puddles, making mud pies, finger painting, eating spaghetti with their hands. Somewhere along the lines of becoming an adult, many of us lost our ability to enjoy being messy. I, for one, loathe activities where a mess is sure to happen. I’m cringing just thinking about our last foray into finger paint, but I do it for them and I bet you do, too. It may be letting them bake with you, play with worms in the garden, or just going to town in the bath tub. You show you love them by stepping out of your comfort zone to embrace theirs.
3. You put a roof over their heads. This is something children won’t understand until they’re older, but this is a huge deal. A house to sleep in, lights that turn on, and food in the fridge show how much you care about and sacrifice for them. When we become parents, sacrifice becomes our middle name. We might buy a $2500 Springfree or a $300 Marathon, but we will no longer drop $100 on a FitBit or spend money hand over fist on takeout because it’s just us and we don’t want to cook. Nope, we choose to be responsible, to take care of our son and daughter’s needs before ours, and that says “I love you” loud and clear.
4. You entertain their whims. Kids have the attention span of a fly most of the time, but every once in a while their brain gets stuck on a certain activity and won’t let go. It is then that we as parents do everything we can to nurture their interest. If it’s art, we buy them paint and brushes and clay and canvas and markers. If it’s dance, we buy them shoes and lessons and outfits. Basketball, dinosaurs, history, expensive trampolines, whatever. We want to give them the world and sometimes their world just wants one more book about space so they can learn about Pluto. So we buy it. Because we love them.
5. You say “I love you.” Some parents didn’t grow up with a mom or dad who said these words out loud. It was assumed through actions or interactions, but never spoken. It’s important for children to hear these words, for them to penetrate deep into their hearts and minds every day of their life so they can grow up knowing how to love and what that looks like. I’d bet my last cup of coffee that all of us have said these magic words to our kids today so let me assure you – this is enough. These words are enough. You are doing enough. I know you love your kids, and they do, too.
Toni Hammer chronicles her mommy misadventures at Is It Bedtime Yet? and spends too much time on Facebook and Twitter. She writes for Scary Mommy, Babble, The Huffington Post and other sites that she can't remember because she's exhausted from being a SAHM to two toddlers. She drowns her mommy guilt in copious amounts of coffee and Diet Coke.