The hardest thing about being a mom is the criticism you receive from others, especially from other mothers. If you are like me I am my most worst critic. It is a voice you hear in your head and it whispers in your ear all of the time.
When I gave birth to my first son I was tormented by the whispers and the thoughts that I was a bad mother. In my mind I felt like a failure. I was scared. I had no idea what I was doing with this little human. I was never prepared for what was to come the moment he was placed in my arms. Nothing that I had planned went as planned….go figure lol. “You are not a bad mother. You are not a bad mother. You are not a bad mother.” A woman who I did not know very well repeated those words to me nearly six years ago. I am so grateful for her words. That moment had completely changed my mindset. It encouraged and uplifted me. Instead, I started to go with the flow and I embraced this new role in my life.
Unfortunately, as he was getting older I found myself feeling like a failure again. I am bilingual and I was raised by a proud Dominican woman. Spanish was my first language and I learned English at the age of six. In my culture we are proud of our food, music, and the Spanish language. It is imperative that we continue to pass all those things down to our children especially speaking Spanish. In helping my mom master the English language I never became a fluent Spanish speaker. My husband is not Hispanic so we do not speak Spanish to each other. I worked 5 days a week for 40 hours. My childcare provider did not speak Spanish. The only time he heard Spanish was when I would speak to him but that became difficult because I myself struggled to parent him in Spanish. It was so frustrating for both of us. I would speak to him in Spanish and he would look at me like a deer in headlights. I would try to find children’s cartoons in Spanish on youtube and he would change it. I began to feel guilty. In my thoughts I could hear and feel my family criticizing me for not teaching my son Spanish. I made it worse by comparing myself to other moms in my life when I heard their young children speaking in Spanish. When I recognized what I was doing I made a mental list of all the things that made me a great mom. I encouraged myself and told myself “it is what it is.” I literally had to have a reality check with myself. I am not those women. My son is not their children. I also realized that the Spanish he did hear he was retaining it. Although he did not speak it much I realized he understood me when I spoke it to him. So here I am 3 years later still speaking to him in Spanish as often as possible. I have never compared him to other children and I will not let a second language be the exception.
Motherhood is not a one size fits all. Everything is just not black or white. Every child is different. Every need is different. What works for one parent may not work for the next. I believe in a higher power. We were created with a purpose which makes every individual unique. I believe children are a gift and a treasure. God forms them in our womb and entrust us to use the gifts and ability He has given to us specifically so that we can teach them; so that we can recognize their gifts, their abilities and nurture it. Our children are our future.
The hope is that they will one day become adults and contribute to this world. So I end this by boldly say YOU…..ARE…NOT…..A…..BAD…..Mother. Whether you choose to breast feed or formula feed, guess what? You are not a bad mother. Whether you choose to place your baby in his crib early or co-sleep. You are not a bad mother. Having to go back to work to continue to provide and contribute does not make you a bad mother. Leaving your child with a child care provider whether in home or in a facility does not make you a bad mother. Stop allowing these thoughts and these lies blur your vision of the beauty in front of you. Make the best of every moment.
Are you a perfect mother? Nope. Am I a perfect mother? Faaarr from it. I am guilty of losing my patience, of getting a little too loud, of having some mom fail moments but it does not change the fact that I love my boys with all of me. I’ve sacrificed my time, my sleep, my body, and even my job for them. Be encouraged and remember you are not a bad mother.