Parenting - The Hardest Thing I Have Ever Done

I have been thinking about what it takes to be considered a good parent. I recently received comments to a few of my hubs that criticized my parenting. It is one of those things that I thought I was doing a pretty good job at with all things considered. The comments I received have made me stop and think about a few things. As a mother I had to rethink my way of doing things but more than anything it has made me realize that you can't please everyone. You have to do the things you feel are right by you and your family.

Have you ever wondered if you were doing all you could as a parent or if you were even doing the right things? I have yet to find a step by step manual to tell me how to raise my kids. What kind of indications do you get when you are raising your children well? I guess if Social Services has not showed up yet you may be doing a pretty good job? Yeah.. but that is a little extreme. There are so many opinions, criticisms, and advice on how to raise children that it makes you stop and wonder if you are doing it right.


In The Beginning

I will have to say that raising children is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I came from a divorced family and lived with my mother. My father was never around and when he was there was a lot of drama. Lets just say it was not a good environment for children to be raised in. This is my opinion as someone who lived it and can look back on it. I did not have a very good foundation to work from as I started having children and began the journey of being a parent.

I knew in my mind how I wanted to do things and started my journey in 1999 with the birth of my first son. I was ready to take care of this baby and be the perfect parent. After day three I took him back to the doctor and told them that this was NOT the baby I had read about in all the pregnancy and baby books for nine months. He was colicky and screamed 16 out of a 24 hour day. He never slept and was so full of gas he was considered explosive. This crushed me and I soon realized that there were no manuals out there that could tell me how to take care of my baby. It was something that I did by feeling and what felt right is what I did. I did have guidance from doctors and a few good books along the way. But it was nowhere as easy as I thought it would be.

I had three other children and learned a great deal with each one of them as babies. None of them were the same as babies and each had their own personalities. I will have to say that it is a wonder I had anymore after the first one since he was so colicky. None of the others were like that and followed the “What to Expect When Expecting” book a lot better than he did. I got so many different opinions on what to do and how to take care of my babies along the way. Some advice I took while others I did not.

As They Get Older

As you start developing skills as a parent and finding your own way it feels good. You know your children, what makes them tick, and how to make things right with them. You know what every cry means and what they need on a day to day basis to make them healthy and happy. They grow and then start telling you what they want and need. This is good and bad. They always want a lot more than they need. At least they can now verbalize things and express their feelings about things where you have to interpret a lot of that when they are babies. As they grow into older children they start disagreeing with you and telling you how much they don't like you when they can't get their way. You do what is best for them which doesn't always mean they will like it. I explain this to my children all the time but not sure it sinks in. They start to tell you things like, “I want to go live with my daddy” and “I never get anything” when they are mad at you. With one at twelve years old it has become very frustrating to hear some of the things that come out of his mouth to me. I think to myself, I have raised this child and he is so ungrateful. Then I realize that he has to learn and he is just twelve. It is a very difficult age to be. He wants to be grown but does not know how. It can be very difficult to handle as a mother. You question your actions and words everyday with your children. You can't help but wonder if you are doing things right. What can you do different to achieve the results you want?

Who Do You Have To Please?

There are so many different opinions on the proper way to raise kids and it can be a hard thing to keep up with. Trying to please everyone is a lost cause. I think that as long as your children are healthy, happy, and they like living with you is a good sign that things are going pretty good. You feel like you need the approval of your mother in this journey. So you look to her for advice and you sometimes hear from her about how she wouldn't do any of the things that you are doing with your kids. Never mind the fact that she didn't win any mother of the year awards either. Your friends have their opinions and each raise their children a little different than you do but you typically respect each others ways. If there are any ex's in the picture then you have a long road to prove to them and their family that you are doing anything right in raising your kids. If you let all of these people's opinions, comments, and sometimes criticisms get to you, it can make you wonder if you really do know what you are doing.

Getting Criticized

What do you do when someone criticizes your parenting? How does it affect you? It makes me rethink how I am doing things and I try to determine if their criticism is valid. I discuss it with my husband and get his input on if he thinks things are right or wrong. Sometimes I discuss issues of parenting with my friends who are also parents and get their input and advice. What else can you do? People have a right to say what they want and unfortunately don't think about how it affects others. Or maybe some people do know how it affects others and that is why they say the things they do.

Some recent criticisms that I have received (from the same person) and have had to question myself on.

All you feed your children is pizza and hotdogs”. I initially laughed it off since it seemed like a stupid thing to say, even as a criticism. The person who made the comment has not seen me or been around me with my family for at least 7 years or more. So I did not take this criticism too seriously. My children eat a lot of pizza, hotdogs, macaroni and cheese, tacos, spaghetti, and anything else I can get them to eat. I have four children and getting them to even eat is a task. They all get positive marks on their yearly well visits for weight and height. They take daily vitamins and I stuff them with as many vegetables as I can get them to eat. Whatever I am doing is working. Should a mother be made to feel like she is doing something wrong by not cooking a massive meal every night like our grandmothers once did? My grandmother had a spread for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I am not like that. I cook a nice meal at least twice a week and the rest we eat quick meals. My mother had to prove herself wrong by continuing to cook huge meals with most of it going to waste when she visited. The children have a short list of things they like to eat. We work on that occasionally by trying new things but I focus on feeding my children what they will eat.

The reason your son gets bullied in school is because you don't make him brush his teeth.” I was a little bothered by this comment since my son is twelve years old and brushes his teeth in the morning and most nights. Sometimes he doesn't brush his teeth at night. So what? He sees a dentist twice a year and his teeth are fine. How can someone say something like that to a mother? That I am the reason he gets bullied? Is it just ignorance or does this person really believe that it is my fault he gets bullied. Why would a mother want to do anything that would result in their child being bullied at school. Why would a mother not make their child do things like brush their teeth, wash their hair, take care of themselves? It seems that a lot of these tasks take up a large part of my day with all my children. If I didn't stay on them to do things like this I would have a lot more time in the day to do what I wanted to do.

Who Else Is Guilty?

Do you feed your children hotdogs or pizza at least once per week?

See results without voting

Feel Good About Your Parenting

Criticisms like this leave you to find yourself questioning and justifying what you do with your children. I don't necessarily think it is bad to review what you do and look for areas to improve. I think it is bad for others to put mothers especially through the process of feeling guilty and the need to justify what they do with their children. No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes in life. We all hope to learn from our mistakes and teach our children to do different than we did. I sure do have a lot of advice for my children on what not to do as adults. When can you sit back and feel good that you are doing things right as a parent? Or do you ever feel good about it? I have to look at the comments made to me and dismiss them. I know I am doing what I feel is right in my heart for my children and family. I get up everyday and take care of my children and run my household as best I can. I am sure I won't get an trophies but I feel good about what I do. If you receive criticisms that are truly not justified then you have to rely on how you feel deep down inside as a parent. I can't wait for my children to grow into adults and have their families. I hope to have a house full of family everyday to share things with and most of all share our crazy stories on them growing up and some of the mistakes that were made. I hope to laugh about them and not be resented for them.

A Letter To My Children

I have often thought about writing my children a letter for them to read when they become adults. It would start off something like this:

Dear __________ ,

I am writing this letter to let you know how much I love you. I raised you the best way I knew how. I know that you will be blaming me for things when you are older and have your own children. Just as I blamed my mother and she her mother. Just understand that I did not intentionally do the things that have scarred you for life or that you resent me for today........

I am not sure they will appreciate such a letter but it might help my cause as a parent. You know your kids have to have something to complain about as adults and tend to pick on their mothers. We are the reason for so many things including some of their flaws. As a mother, I have done the best I know how. My children are happy and healthy. They smile when they see me and tell me they love me everyday. What more can I ask for?

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Comments 13 comments

frugalfamily profile image

frugalfamily 4 years ago from Houston, TX

Angela, I think this hub is a reflection of the feelings so many parents have and are not able to voice as well as you have. I'm sorry that in your short time with us as a hubber, you have already suffered negative comments. I believe that with only rare exceptions, every parent only wants what is best for their children but they don't get the credit they deserve from school systems, doctors and the rest of society.

Here is my advice as a parenting coach:

Write down your parenting mantra: for example, I will raise my children as healthy, respectful individuals and celebrate their unique differences. (Sorry if that's too corny but I'm working on the fly here.)Then with every decision you make, rather than trying to figure out who you are trying to please, match it to your mantra. If feeding your children pizza keeps them healthy, then who tf cares what anyone else has to say?

angela p profile image

angela p 4 years ago from Richmond, Virginia Author

You are right frugalfamily - I felt that I had to write this hub as a venting process. I know deep down that I am a good mother and if the worst I do is feed my children pizza and hotdogs then so be it. LOL. I thought the comments were so crazy but it made me go back and think about things. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I am so glad we found each other as I am sure I can learn a lot from your hubs!

frugalfamily profile image

frugalfamily 4 years ago from Houston, TX

Me too! Be sure to check out my website too:)

Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

angela p -- I was 18 when my son was born and lived far out in the country on a ranch. I had input from my Granny and my wonderful mother-in-law so my mentors were caring and superb. As there were no other children to play with, as I reflect on those days, my son and I played together like two children. I rode horses and did ranch work and took him with me strapped to my back. As he grew older there was never any question about me being the authority figure but strangely, we seemed more like friends and that became enhanced into his adulthood. I'm not advocating a parent being a "friend" rather than taking a parent role but all mothers know that's a huge advantage. I don't think Rusty remembered the things he ate or how his shirts were ironed or what kind of jeans he wore. He did remember moments and occasions we shared and seemed to hold those dear to his heart. It sounds to me like you're a mother going in the right direction as it's doubtful your children will remember how much pizza they ate -- but they'll always remember your loving attitude -- which is very apparent.

I always felt my son suffered when his father and I divorced - he was seven at the time. I worried about that for many years and on his 50th birthday I apologized for any pain I'd caused him. I'll never forget his answer -- "Mama, I made it just fine because you were always there." I felt like a million dollars upon hearing that statement. Rusty died not quite a year ago. I feel my greatest accomplishment as a mother was being there for him. You're doing that and there's no greater gift to your children -- no matter what the hell anyone else thinks. Voted UP! Best, Sis

angela p profile image

angela p 4 years ago from Richmond, Virginia Author

Angela - I love it when you leave me comments. You make me feel so much better. I laughed to myself as we sat down and ate hotdogs tonight for dinner. We were all sitting there laughing and having a good time. Like you said, this is what the children will remember. Thanks again for reading and commenting.. love to you - Angel

wordscribe43 profile image

wordscribe43 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

This is such a beautiful hub, so poignant. We started our journeys the same year, in 1999. I don't think there's any way to begin to comprehend the immense role we're undertaking as parents. No books, talking to others, asking our own parents or anything of the sort can even begin to scratch the surface of the true experience. I'll tell you what, there's nothing more true than the fact that you can't please everyone. Good grief, I tried and failed miserably.

We need to give ourselves some slack, that I know for sure. We are human, not every duck can be in a row 24/7... We do our best to feed them healthy foods, make sure they brush their teeth and keep up with their hygiene. But, I'm not gonna sweat it when things don't get done- because they simply don't all of the time.

And no doubt being a parent necessitates not giving them everything they want. I often tell them I'm not allowing that because I'd be a bad mom if I did. I have heard they hate me, they can't wait til they're grown up, etc... But, in my heart I have to remind myself they are not grown up enough to make rational decisions. Their brains are still too small and undeveloped enough to do that!

I think it's our duty to support each other as Moms. My sister is soooooo out of control with healthy foods. It's all organic, no junk food EVER, they didn't even have any candy or dessert until they were around 10 (I kid you not). She gives me that "look" when my kids eat cheeseburgers... But, you know what? I don't really care.

Bottom line, you are a great parent because you are doing your very best. That's all anyone can ask. It's blatantly obvious how much you love and adore your kids. It oozes from this very page. So, I'd say you are an excellent Mommy!

angela p profile image

angela p 4 years ago from Richmond, Virginia Author

Thank you wordscribe43 - your comment is beautiful as well. So true. It was hard for me to put all of this into words but I did as a result of negative comments. Comments that you saw some of and supported me through... thank you again. Sometimes it takes things like that to make us stop and think about how we are doing things and realize that we shouldn't be so hard on ourselves. I think mothers are especially..thank you for your support.. also for reading and leaving such a great comment.... Angel

stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon

Hey Angela,

I often criticize myself for the things I am not doing with my kids - calling myself Lazy of all things... with four of them. Like you, we are doing the best that we can under the circumstances. It may be easier for a mom of 2 to have an opinion on how dinner should be served or homework accomplished. But really. If your kids are fed, clothed and loved, you get a gold star in my book.

Parenting is exhausting and more than full time. There is no "vacation" or "sabbatical." God forbid we ever get a day off, we work 3 times as hard to prepare everything for the person caring for them in our absence.

Enjoyed reading this hub and can totally relate. Have a great day and enjoy your kids - they are YOURS after all!! Steph

angela p profile image

angela p 4 years ago from Richmond, Virginia Author

Steph - You know how we moms can be too critical of ourselves sometimes. I think I have an extra case of it. Especially when comments are made, I start to re-evaluate what I do. But you are very right. We do the best we can and I think more than anything that is what I was trying to say in the hub. My children are loved, healthy, and taken care of everyday. Some things you just can't sweat. Lazy with 4 kids is not possible. You and I both know that. Thanks so much for reading, commenting, and following. I am honored.

Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 4 years ago from Canada's 'California'

Great hub! My son went through a phase (that lasted two years,) where all he wanted were hot dogs and pizza! Thankfully, he now eats 'regular' food lol, but it was a trial!

Thanks for the wonderful comments, and if you would like to write a post or two on my blog, please let me know :)

angela p profile image

angela p 4 years ago from Richmond, Virginia Author

Thank you Enelle - isn't it funny how children go through all these phases including what they will eat. You are very welcome on the comments. You deserve them. I am just so happy that I found you because there are so many times I feel so alone in the ADHD thing with my son and daughter. Just to know that there are others out there and I am not the only one experiencing these things is helpful to me. I would love to write a post or two on your blog. You know I am new to online writing but I do have a lot to say..LOL. especially on the subject of ADHD/ODD/OCD and children. Thank you again Enelle.

angela p profile image

angela p 4 years ago from Richmond, Virginia Author

BTW Enelle - I did respond to a forum topic on your blog earlier this morning on the school system and children with ADHD.

Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 4 years ago from Canada's 'California'

My Goodness - so did I ;) LOL thank you, I answered the post :D

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