I’m doing my best.
I’m trying to care for my child the best I know how. Aren’t we all? I’m trying to raise him well, make informed decisions, love him to the very ends of my human limits.
And somehow it’s not enough. And too much. All at once.
The comments started the day he came home from the hospital. Or, more truthfully, the day I found out I was pregnant.
At first, I appreciated different perspectives and anything off-colour just rolled off my back:
Cloth diapers are inconvenient. Disposable diapers have chemicals.
He should sleep on his back. He should sleep on his tummy.
He needs the sun for vitamin D. But don’t go in the sun, take a supplement.
Wear sunscreen. Don’t wear sunscreen.
How long are you breastfeeding? Or not breastfeeding.
If you don’t vaccinate, he could die. Or if you do, he could die.
He should be sleeping better by now. He’ll sleep eventually so stop worrying.
Give him a soother. Don’t give him a soother. It’s too soon. It’s too late. It’s too long.
Make sure you’re feeding him whole foods. Don’t waste your time with all those “fancy” foods.
Cry it out. Use a schedule. Don’t cry it out. Don’t schedule. Let him be a kid, do your thing.
The list is almost limitless.
And you know where this leaves me as a new mom after my first year?
No matter what I do. Or don’t do. I’m insecure.
No matter what I do. Or don’t do. I’m a failure.
But this problem is not an opinion issue. Or even an unsolicited-comment issue.
This is a me issue. Why?
Insecurity is created by how I process the opinions and comments. Not the comments themselves.
It comes down to this one question: Where do I look for my security? When I asked this question to myself, the answer was staring me in the face.
I look for security in unanimous, public approval. In being, and being perceived as being, a perfect mother.
How’s that for the worst place to look for personal security and affirmation, ever?
Can anyone relate? Am I all alone here?
I want to be the perfect parent. I want everyone to like my parenting choices. I want everyone to support my parenting choices. But here’s the clincher. If they don’t, I must be a bad mom.
Right? Wrong. We all know that’s wrong and we know that’s a lie. But it’s one I’ve been allowing to masquerade as truth for months now. And it’s left me incredibly insecure.
So How Do We Overcome Insecurity?
Here’s what I’m learning:
1. Be open-handed
I’m the first to admit I don’t know everything. But it’s easy to secretly think I do.
Holding on to “my ways” so tightly that I have to harden myself to others’ input is just not healthy. And it’s an easy place to get to.
To be open-handed in parenting means to acknowledge that, while I am doing the best I can with the information and resources I have, I don’t know everything. I may learn or discover something that causes me to change. And that’s okay. That’s good.
This isn’t about lacking resolve. This isn’t about abandoning conviction.
It’s just about admitting that we’re not all-knowing. Because . . . we’re not.
2. Be curious
Ask questions. Seek to understand alternate opinions when they present themselves (judgment free). We don’t have to agree with everything to ask thoughtful questions with the intention of understanding one another.
It shows respect. And humility.
And at the end of the day, we can respect one another without fully agreeing with one another.
In fact, when we don’t, the world gets ugly pretty quick.
Curiosity keeps us learning, keeps us humble (putting others above ourselves) and allows us to respect one another.
3. Be discerning
What lies are you believing? Identify them.
One of the great mentors in my life says we need to “clean out our truth drawer” regularly.
We all have one. A drawer full of things we have decided are true. But sometimes stuff gets into it that isn’t true.
“I’m a bad parent if someone doesn’t agree with something I’m doing” is one of the lies that got into mine.
What are you keeping in your truth drawer that shouldn’t be there? How is that affecting you?
4. Be perceptive
Look for the big picture.
I’m going to fail as a parent sometimes. My boy doesn’t have a perfect mother (try as I may). And in a powerful message from Andy Stanley, I was reminded “there is a perfect that I am not.”
That perfect is Jesus, my Heavenly Father. He is loving me and my family unconditionally. Where my human capacity ends, God’s doesn’t. He gives me strength where I am weak, and He loves my family in ways I can’t.
Whether I’m eating organic, wearing toxic sunscreen, or letting my boy chew on my cell phone… I’m a work in progress. And that’s OKAY. Because “the Perfect that I am not” loves me, is with me and is making me new.
Friends who wrestle with similar insecurities, what have I missed? How do you guard against insecurity?
This article originally appeared here, and has been adapted and reposted with permission from the author.