As I cooked dinner last with my headphones on, meditating, I was reminded of a conversation I had with a parent about a month ago. She was questioning whether or not her pre-k student was receiving the educational support she felt was appropriate for her daughter and that her teacher was focusing too much on socio-emotional skills. If you’ve been in some of the classrooms I have been in, you would understand the need to teach children how to interact in a positive way with their peers before you can teach them academics or doing so simultaneously. She also mentioned that her older son knew so much more at this age compared to his sister. Luckily, for her I am also a parent of a pre-k student and I am a co-teacher in a pre-k classroom and I could offer some more insight and perhaps a different perspective.
My initial words of advice was to stop comparing her children because they are and will always be two completely different individuals. I also comforted her by telling her that I was guilty of doing the same thing with my children and then feeling bad because I wasn’t doing as much with my youngest as I did with my oldest. I reminded her that although our children are close in age, the gap between them still makes a difference. Today’s toddlers are just as fixated on technology as our older children. We have to meet our kiddos where they are so if that means incorporating technology versus old school pen and paper or just reading books in order to support their learning then that’s what we have to do. I had to remind myself of this conversation because I found myself yet again comparing my children. I asked my four year old to identify a specific letter and she was unsure but she knew exactly what sound it made. I realized that although she isn’t learning in the same ways as her sister, she is learning in her own way and I love it.
Even still, I was judging myself as a mother and feeling guilty because my life at the time when I had my first child was different than it is with my second and I had to do things a bit differently. My youngest had to compete with me being tired and overworked and still trying to balance it all. Don’t get me wrong, I am still very much involved in her education and her day to day but perhaps not as much as I would like. However, when I engage in conversations with her, it is very evident that she is constantly learning and evolving and that I am doing something right. I really just want to be the best mom I can be but I struggle with feeling inadequate sometimes like i’m not doing my best. I meditate because it helps me to remove the negative feelings I have and to check myself for not recognizing that I am an amazing mother who will continue to love and support my children in a way that meets their individual needs but who will never be perfect and that’s okay. Maybe you were too tired to read a goodnight story but your child still loves to read because you’ve already begin instilling that in them.
This is a reminder that this parenting shit is hard as hell but there is so much beauty in it all. We need to take some time to breath and reflect on all of the small victories because life is too short to drain our energy with comparison and guilt. If no one has told you already, let me tell you…..YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB, MAMA. Smile, breath, and relax because you’re gonna need it!