“For so long, I felt the need to seek permission to parent the way I wanted.
You know, I heard ‘attachment parenting’ thrown around quite a bit. There seemed to be a big emphasis. It made sense to me.
But when I had my baby relatively young, it already felt like I’d ‘done it wrong.’ With people constantly asking me if my baby was planned, it set me off on a trajectory to seeking reassurance for every other thing. I knew too much and yet it felt like nothing. Shoot, my brain wasn’t even fully developed yet. And I was birthing a new one. I had imposter syndrome – parenting edition.
One piece of me was the piece my child saw. The fun, the gentle, the caring. The other piece was what I assumed everyone else saw: the anxious, the suffocating, the questions.
From then on, I assumed my decisions were scrutinized. Sometimes they were. But I’m sure that often, the pressure I placed on myself was loud too.
Eventually, I found a sweet spot.
I realized nobody had to know. If nobody knew, they couldn’t smile in a condescending way and tell me I’d soon get sick of doing things that way. Nobody saw the choices I made until we entered the world. Suddenly, the results were valued after the process was disrespected. Funny that.
And people would say things like:
‘Wow, she speaks so clearly for her age!’
Immediately, I picture the days of the two of us. We spent much of our day alone and I would talk to her constantly. ‘Can you see those birds in the sky? I think they are wrens. Did you see them?’ It wasn’t even to fill the space. It was because I loved her.
‘She’s so sweet and caring with her doll!’
I smile and reminisce about the nights I stayed and rocked her when she was sick, sad, or lonely.
‘Her drawings are so creative.’
I recall the days we spent sprawled on the floor with paper and pens, while the dishes went stale and the dinner pot overflowed. We never seemed to have enough paper.
‘She definitely speaks her mind.’
I remember all the times I’ve let her.
The times I felt like I was not enough were actually experiences that shaped our beautiful girl.
The age on my birth certificate means nothing to my children.
It should mean nothing to you.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Zelma of The Postnatal Project. You can follow her journey on Instagram and her website. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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