You may have gotten pregnant easily, almost in the blink of an eye. Infertility may have been a battle you fought and won, or lost, possibly multiple times. Some of us adopt, whether it is domestically, internationally, through the foster system or any other means. I see you.
Did you think that motherhood would look the way it actually does? No? Not even the the slightest bit? Not me either. In SO many ways it is so much more joyful, hilarious, and beautiful in ways I couldn’t have imagined. It is also HARD.
No matter how you become a mom, you are 100% a mom and know what is best for your child no matter how you became a mother. Never apologize for knowing what is best for your child and never sell that knowledge short by allowing someone else to cause you to doubt your innate mom gut.
When I say parenting is hard, it’s not just hard, it’s sometimes impossibly hard and you wonder if you’re doing it right every second of the day. Never felt that way? You might be brand new at it then, because I don’t know of a single mom I know that hasn’t felt this way. Some of us don’t often admit that we feel this way, but most of us feel this way more often than not. I have to tell you though, I am here to say MOMMING IS HARD!
You were made to be the perfect mom to this little person (or people) that were given to you to care for … think about that for a second and let it really sink in … YOU ARE PERFECT. This means SO much. It means that you know in your gut when your child is happy, silly, joyful, glum, sad, mad, hungry, hangry, flat out raging for no apparent reason to outsider’s eye but … you … you get why without having to even ask a single question of your child. With this knowledge comes the obligation and privilege to care for this little (sometimes mini you) person that doesn’t have the words yet to explain their needs adequately to others. Cue you.
This is where what I call “unapologetic parenting” comes in. Sometimes the decisions you make for your children won’t be popular among some people. Sometimes it will be friends, family, and sometimes the general public around you … that’s ok! You and only you know what is best for your child and it is your job to sometimes fight for what they need. This fight needs no explanation, no apology (see there what I did? unapologetic …), it just needs you to do what you think is right for your child.
These decisions could be medical decisions, social decisions, a decision to retain your child a grade in school, a decision to provide your child with therapies that are unpopular or deemed “unnecessary” by others, changing your child’s school, changing your child’s diet to what you feel is important for them to eat, medications that you and your child’s doctors deem necessary, the list can go on forever. Others will have an opinion about most of your parenting choices if you choose to listen to them. Every parent is different; every child is different and has different needs. My child may need a different set of tools in his emotional toolbox than yours and ALL OF THAT IS OK!
Your job as a parent is to figure this out, with a lot of help from the experts you choose and your mom gut; to figure out what is best for this little human growing right before your eyes. Please, please never feel that you have to apologize for your parenting choices, whatever they may be. Someone may try to “bulldoze you” or use their power to make you feel ‘less than’ as a parent or as if you’ve done something wrong as you fight for what you believe is right for your child. Don’t allow them to take your power away or pacify you in a way that requires you to give up. It is vital that you stand your ground and fight the fight for your child, because they don’t yet know how to fight the fight by themselves, you teach them by example to use their voice. Unapologetic parenting doesn’t always involve fighting for your child. Much to the contrary, it can be very peaceful and joyful, but when you are an unapologetic parent you must be prepared to “be in the arena and go to battle,” in the words of Brené Brown.
Children do not just sometimes behave in a way that is unexpected. They almost always do things that confound us. You will sometimes find yourself with no words to explain their actions to others. Some children are more precocious than others and require more statements such as “I’m sorry my child hit your child” than others, but I can guarantee there is no child who is perfect and behaves perfectly. Don’t apologize for your child being who they are. You can apologize for unacceptable behavior, but please, I beg of you, never apologize for your child being every bit of their wonderful self, whatever that entails!
As they grow, the unapologetic parenting may become more complex. Your fights might become more complex, more unpopular with larger groups of people. You might tick off some people here and there, they may even call you names like “crazy,” “stupid,” “absurd,” or even words that I will choose not to write here. Wear that badge proudly if you are doing what is best for your child!
If you are fortunate enough to have a biological family that’s in your corner, you are one of the lucky ones. Lean on them and cherish them. You also need friends though, real friends, your true friends, the family or “family you create as you grow” as I like to refer to my closest of friends will have your back as you unapologetically parent. They won’t question your choices in a disrespectful way, they may not always agree with your choice, but they will respect your right to parent your child the way you think is best for your child. These people are gold, cherish them, keep them, love them, they are your family. They will never call you names, criticize you, love you any less when you struggle through the hardest of decisions. Don’t mistake their questions or loving truth to keep you real for criticism, this is a part of loving you, they have your back they are still on board 100% and love your child as much as they love you, if not more. You are enough for them as you are sitting here today, your child is enough as he or she is sitting here today, tomorrow and always.
YOU ARE ENOUGH AND I SEE YOU!
An unapologetic “crazy” (and some other unmentionable words) mom who wears her badge proudly for doing what is right for her child.
About Leigh Anne Wilbanks
Leigh Anne is married to her husband of 11.5 years, Jeff and mother to Major (6) and Maggie Claire (2). Born and raised in Baton Rouge, she attended Auburn University but after 2 years traded tigers to graduate from LSU with a degree in Elementary Education. She then married the love of her life and fulfilled her lifelong dream of becoming a mom. In addition, she proudly started her own design, stationery, and photography business called ‘Leigh Anne Wilbanks Photography’ to be able to stay at home with her children.