“It’s not you, it’s me” is the cliché phrase we have all heard during a sappy breakup scene on a show or movie, in a breakup song or a romance novel.
The phrase is so cliché and dated because it allowed one person an “out” for them to break up with the other person without necessarily having a reason. It typically was said with a tone of pity and guilt. I, myself, have never used this to break up with someone but I have had it used to break up with me. While this phrase has many negative eye roll connotations and feelings that come up, it has now become an affirmation I tell myself when things get a little rough when raising a child.
Every journey to pregnancy is different, every pregnancy itself is different, every post-partum journey is different, and every child is just different. No experience or one human is alike. We all know this, but when you are in the “thick of it” during rough times raising a child, you tend to ask the dreaded questions – What did I do wrong? Did I do something wrong? Could I have done something differently? Is this my fault?
While these questions never have answers, we all beat ourselves up with them when something seems different (not wrong, but different) with our child. Let me add right here that when I say different I mean different compared to others because you have to complete the sentence with “compared to others.” No one is ever different until you compare it to something or someone else that we have labeled as “normal.”
When we hear others talk about their experiences with their children or even just read or see others (thank you social media) during their experiences with their children, we typically compare and wonder why is my situation not like that. Due to my situation, I typically question myself when talking to others about our children’s eating habits (or lack of), sleeping habits (or lack of), height or weight differences, photographic child versus one who hates photos and a perfectly behaved child during dinner vs one who has ants in her pants.
I have learned to say to myself “it’s not you, it’s me” as if my child were saying that to me.
I imagine my child letting me know that it’s not me or anything I have done wrong but instead it’s her just being different than everyone else. And somehow that phrase now reminds me that everyone is different and it’s okay. I’m reminded that I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m not a bad mom because I didn’t put my child to sleep at a certain bedtime and that’s why she keeps waking up. I’m not a bad mom because I let my child eat Oreos before dinnertime and now she won’t eat her real dinner. I’m not a bad mom because I drop my child off at daycare every day, and I don’t regret my decision or circumstance for having to put her in daycare. I’m not a bad mom because I use Johnson and Johnson products compared to the all-natural products.
I am a mom who is just different than the next mom on the side of me or the mom who may be reading this. My child is just different than the next child who may be the same age as the other child who has totally different eating habits, sleeping habits, physical features and who is raised completely different than her. We should not be apologetic for just being different. I challenge all of us moms just raising our children and doing the best we can to say with a confident tone and smile on our face “it’s not you, it’s me” the next time someone makes you feel as if you are doing something wrong.