As parents, sometimes we get it wrong.
When you’re charged with raising tiny humans, you second-guess every decision. But God entrusted these little ones to you, and so you pray for guidance and hope that you’re making the right choice. Sometimes you do, and it feels like a parenting win. And sometimes you don’t, and that’s OK.
Let me repeat that for you, mamas: THAT IS OK.
There’s no way you’re going to make the right choice all the time. But the point is that you try. For every decision that we have to make about our children, there are 18 million different opinions of what the best answer should be.
People are more than happy to give you their advice on how to parent your children, whether you asked for it or not. Am I right??? From what and how we feed our children as infants to how we discipline them to when we potty train them to how we educate them. SO many different choices and SO many different opinions of which is best.
You want to do the right thing. You want your kid to grow up to be who they are meant to be. You don’t screw this up. How do you know you’re making the right choice when there are so many opinions (and comments on social media) screaming at you telling you what is best?
Sometimes we make the right choice. And sometimes as parents, we get it wrong.
Last spring, Chris and I received a letter informing us that EC had been accepted into the Magnet School. It was a wonderful opportunity and something we had strongly considered since moving to Tuscaloosa. But since she had been at three different schools in 18 months thanks to our move and her starting elementary school, we were hesitant to move her again. We also loved Rock Quarry Elementary and had no reason to want to leave.
We debated and prayed and asked for advice and made up our minds and changed our minds and made up our minds and changed them again. We realized that this was a decision that EC should be a part of. So we told her about the school and took her for a tour. She immediately decided she wanted to go there. We knew that if we didn’t take this chance to give it a try, it was very unlikely that we would get a chance again. We were thrilled, and so was she.
Off we went into the start of a new school year at a wonderful school. The curriculum was new and exciting, allowing her to learn new things.
But something just didn’t feel right. It wasn’t something that can taught in the classroom. It wasn’t the academics or the environment. It was something simple yet so complex—happiness.
But this can’t be. This is supposed to be the best school for her. It’s an amazing school, a magic school! The faculty and staff are amazing. The programs they offer are outstanding. The things she was learning were so enriching. But she wasn’t happy. We tried to justify it. And so did she. I could see the wheels turning as she struggled through the internal debate of which school she liked the best. We had numerous conversations where we encouraged her evaluate the pros and cons of each school.
The faculty and staff at the Magnet School, well I just can’t say enough good things about them. They embraced Emma Claire and did all that they could to make it work. But somethings you just can’t quantify or explain. It’s just something that she felt inside. She didn’t feel like herself. And while she loved getting to take Spanish and getting more music and more art and project-based learning, she wasn’t herself.
The guilt weighed so heavy on our hearts. Did we fail? This is supposed to work, this was a fantastic opportunity for her and an honor to be accepted. I couldn’t figure it out. I felt so guilty at the thought of getting it wrong. But then I talked to a good friend whose daughter attends the Magnet School. Rather than telling me all the reasons why her daughter loves it there, she spoke to me from the heart of a mama who has gotten it wrong before, too.
She put her hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eyes and said, “It didn’t work for EC. And that’s OK.”
But, no it’s not. It’s supposed to work. It HAS to work.
But then she looked at me again and said, “You tried. And it didn’t work. And that’s ok. You have taught EC a lesson through all of this, a very important one. You’ve taught her that you don’t know until you try. So don’t you EVER regret making the choice to send her there. And don’t for one second feel guilty about choosing to send her back to her old school.”
And that was all the validation I needed.
Chris and I sat EC down and asked her where she wanted to go to school. She timidly asked, “Is it ok if I go back to Rock Quarry?” It was almost as if she felt guilty for admitting that she wasn’t happy at what we all thought would be the best school for her.
I want my girls to know that their decisions should never be defined by someone else’s opinion of what is best. I want them to know that success does not equal happiness. Rather, happiness fuels success. And from happiness flows positivity, creativity, motivation, resiliency and productivity. And most importantly, I want them to believe in themselves enough to try new things. Because whether it ends up being something they love or they decide is not for them, they will learn so much about themselves along the way.
And that goes for you, too, mamas! So let me be the voice of validation for you, just like my friend was for me.
The struggle of trying to figure out this parenting this is SO. REAL. There is no one-size-fits-all plan. Nursing? Yay for you! Pumping? Rock on, mama! Formula-feeding? I bet you can make a dozen bottles in your sleep! Whether your child is disciplined with spankings or timeout, whether they master the art of potty training in three days or are the last one in the class to pick up on the skill, if they are home-schooled, public-schooled or private-schooled, just remember, there are so many ways to do this right. Sometimes you’ll get it right, and sometimes you won’t. And that’s ok. Don’t you ever regret a single decision. And don’t for one second feel guilty about choosing to do what’s best for YOUR child.
So you do you, mamas. Because we’re all just trying to figure this parenting thing out.