I have been writing this blog for a while now. I like to think of it as my safe space where I can share my thoughts and talk about my experience of having a larger than average family. But, I have to take a minute to be honest.
I really don’t have a clue what I’m doing.
Despite being a parent for more than 16 years now, I can honestly say that I am just as clueless as I was the first time the midwife put a slimy, screaming, bundle of limbs into my arms. Ok, I have learned how to change nappies and I can strap a sleeping toddler in to a pushchair like some kind of freaking ninja, but essentially I am the same person I was 16-years-ago; a terrified parent who is winging it as best they can while hoping that nobody notices that they have no idea what they’re doing.
I came to this realisation when I had to start looking at and applying for colleges for my eldest. I have been through the school process many, many times. I know how to apply for places, I know how the system works. But still, I found myself wondering what I was doing and utterly convinced that I had messed it all up, therefore ruining my sons life and potential career. The logical part of my brain knows that this isn’t true. It’s not even close to being true. But, I think that as parents we are always plagued with doubts.
I worry about my 3-year-old making friends. I worry about whether my 7-year-old will be able to catch up on lost learning from the pandemic. I worry about my 10-year-old moving to secondary school next year and the peer pressure that happens in that environment. I worry about my 14-year-old in her first year of GCSE’s as she wants to be a surgeon and I worry that I put too much pressure on her. I worry for my 16-year-old starting college as he is autistic and I know life will not always be kind to him. I spend nights worrying about whether I am cooking the right foods, following the right routines, paying enough attention, being fun enough, being strict enough and generally convincing myself that I am not enough.
I think that what I am trying to say is that no matter how long you have been a parent or how many children you have, self-doubt is normal. I think that it must have been in the small print when we signed over our dignity in the delivery suite. I think that as well as the overwhelming and unconditional love that we feel as parents, we get the constant feeling of not doing enough and not knowing what to do.
But, I think that one thing I have learned over the last 16 years is that I’m not alone. Every other parent I’ve ever met also has doubts. We are all winging it and figuring things out as we go along. None of us really know what we are doing.
So, if you have ever had doubts or fears that you are failing please know that you are not alone. We are all just doing the best we can with whatever hand life has dealt us. Even the super-mums that we see at the school gates have no idea what they’re doing, they’re just better at hiding their doubts from the rest of the world.