F in Parenting


March 27, 2015 by Katia

It was raining when the bus pulled out of the station and I ran to catch it. It wasn’t right away that I had heard the voice behind me and realized the words were directed at me. The voice of a man with the intonation of a child: “Excuse me, Miss. They said that you’re fired. They told me you’re fired.” And as I internalized those stray words, I was no longer running to, but running from, feeling compromised by the red scarf I was wearing.


On the bus I found safety in the book I was holding, but soon enough he was there again relentlessly seeking my attention: “Miss, you shouldn’t show up for work anymore.” I smiled and nodded visibly shifting my attention to the book, feeling exposed as he moved on to others.

I wasn’t fired. My contract was extended by two months. I had not one, but two going away lunches, and created some meaningful relationships. How come those misguided words resonate so deeply? How come they confirm something and evoke shame?

On the next day I forget about the bus episode, but I’m doubting myself. I’m pretty good at knowing what I don’t know and accepting it. Today it seems like there’s not much that I do, even when it comes to the things that matter most. Especially then.

No title’s more valuable, no achievement more gratifying, than the word “mama” directed at me. But have I earned it? Parenting, for me, consists of trial and mostly error. I spend little time as a parent being satisfied with how I’ve handled the curve ball (often literal) thrown at me. The harshness of my tone covers up for lack of conviction, as I discipline. My choppy answers, requests, reprimands are often directionless. They don’t know where they’re going as they leave my mouth and travel the room. Luckily my children aren’t listening. Some days I’m glad no one’s “there” to witness my fails, some days I feel helpless and invisible launching my words into a void.

I know what I don’t know, and treat myself forgivingly, but whenever I struggle as “Mom” I do it under the light of a huge projector exposing my incompetence.

Mom, I have a science question.

Mom, Cody punched me today.

I’m not doing it, mom.

My lack of general knowledge when it comes to science is atrocious.

While there is nothing that I want more, than for my sons to confide in me, I often implode when I hear about potential wrongdoings they’ve encountered and stray off track attempting to assist.

I recognize the need for discipline, yet too often I’m stumped when I need to implement it.

I try but I don’t know how to take the edge off of death for my preschooler.

I try but I don’t know how to get my kids to behave without issuing threats or promising rewards.

I’ve tried different approaches to help them fall asleep on their own.

I sometimes don’t know how to trust my own instincts over borrowed fears and the skilfully phrased opinions of others.

I don’t know how to handle conflicts. I freeze and mumble and feel as helplessness as a child competing against someone much bigger.

Sometimes I read parenting books to draw inspiration. Sometimes, when I’m capable of rising above the outside noises of crying, tantrums, the always more valid opinions of others and the internal noise of self deprecation and comparison, I turn inward, deeper yet, and find great clarity. Sometimes I turn inward and don’t.

I wish I was better, calmer, smarter, more patient and knowledgeable. I wish my grey roots didn’t grow so quickly. I wish I had energy to dress up and put my makeup on every morning. I wish I was more like my mom. I wish I was less like her and more like my husband. I wish I was like my friend, neighbor, person in the store. I worry that my children will soon sober up and see what I see. I hope that maybe successful parenting isn’t about always knowing everything or always being prepared. I hope that maybe successful parenting is about never giving up trying.


37 thoughts on “F in Parenting

  1. As corny as it sounds, kids come without instructions. In questioning your parenting you are taking the first bold steps towards finding what works for you and your family. we follow the motto that when something works follow it & if it fails miserably, learn from it. Above all fret less & enjoy more because “we are living the good all days.” Great post.

    • Katia says:

      Perfect advice. Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness and encouragement. And don’t apologize for the corny cliches, cliches are true. That’s why they’re so overused. 🙂

  2. April says:

    Today I looked into the eyes of my 7yo who seemed a little sad. She says it was because she lost her pay-doh and I can’t help but feel it is more, not sure what, but more. I feel helpless as I don’t know how to help her. I tell her she can talk to me about anything, but she just says its’ the play doh. This post resonates with me on a day I really needed to read it!

  3. larva225 says:

    Last weekend I was just a bitch…to everyone. Even my kids, who weren’t doing anything in particular to deserve it. I try to brush off whatever self-loathing I generate by my own behavior and start fresh the next day. We’re all too hard on ourselves.

    • Katia says:

      Self-loathing is so unnecessary, yet I find that you sometimes just get sucked in and once you realize it, it’s like a whirlwind and it’s too late. I think your approach is super healthy.

  4. Wow! I’ve been there… I’m there alot lately. My daughter is so much smarter than I am and asks me very deep questions and looks at me as though I know everything. I often wish I had the answers that she craves but I do often turn to my husband or other family member for the answers. Luckily I have a great support group of friends, sisters, family that help me through the harder days. Even though all of them live so far away, it is encouraging when I know I can call or text them any time of day or night and be lifted up through them.

    • Katia says:

      Thank you, it’s encouraging to read about similar experiences. Glad that you have a network/community/village/support group. It’s so important. I think that that’s what often carries us through. Thanks so much for the kind comment. 🙂

  5. Natalie DeYoung says:

  6. amycake76 says:

    I often feel so helpless. I don’t know how to overcome it.

  7. Liz says:

    “I wish I was more like…I wish I was less like…” This really resonated with me. So hard to shut off these undercutting thoughts. I just try to remember that’s what they are. They are not true; they are just that inner critic who’s trying to undermine me. In my head I visualize a delete button. Doesn’t always work though, esp when another damaging message from my psyche pops up!

  8. lrconsiderer says:

    And yet, dear, there will be people out there going “I wish I was more like Katia…”

    The grass is always greener on the other side, but also where you WATER it. And you are nurturing your children mindfully, purposefully, and with the best intentions of raising them well and healthily. No one could ask for more.

  9. sara says:

    God, yes. This week has been so crap I have had to stage an intervention – on myself. Supportive people get me through these times – husband, family, friends – that and the knowledge that our children choose us because we are exactly what they need. To be ourselves, truly and authentically, is the best thing we can do for our children. Not to mention how important it is for us!

  10. If you could have seen me at the kitchen table struggling to explain the difference between miles and kilometers and inches and centimeters and … it was 10:30 at night, she was in tears, I was in tears, the measuring tape wasn’t flexible. Dreadful. And then the delightful episode of explaining verb conjugation … Oh man. On and On. At the very least our children will have wonderful stories about US.

  11. TheMomCafe.com says:

    One thing that always makes me feel better when I am in that self defeating mode… is knowing that I am surely not alone in it. We ALL go through the questioning and feeling like we are failing at this thing called motherhood. BUT we’re not. When someone tells me they too, feel like they mess things up with their kids- it’s almost a relief to me.

    Take comfort in that. You are NOT alone at all.

  12. Oh Katia, you’re a beautiful woman with a great heart. I would suggest you adopt my who gives a flying fuck attitude towards it all, but you’re better than that. Lol.

    Kids are pretty tough and deviant, so they’ll push our buttons, but I think as long as we love them, and they know that, they’ll grow up to be who they’re meant to be.

    Good luck!

    • Katia says:

      Oh, you are too kind to say this, but you’re forgetting I’ve read some of your posts. I know that if anyone gives a fuck, it’s actually you, and better yet, you actually do something more about than just whine on your blog (and by that I’m actually alluding to myself). Either way as someone who prides themselves on their superficiality I find it extremely important that you referred to me as a beautiful woman in the opening sentence. 😀 In all seriousness, though, thank you, friend.

  13. Deb says:

    I so appreciate how deeply you take in the world, and how much it can hurt you. I understand from experience. But you are being too, too hard on yourself. I promise! None of us knows what we are doing. xoxo

    • Katia says:

      And I appreciate you for taking the time to stop by and say this. I don’t feel this way all the time, but this week felt like a bit of a limbo. Which is probably what I hate most. I ❤ you

  14. Kristi Campbell - findingninee says:

    This is gorgeous and real writing. Exposure is so hard and yet you do it brilliantly and beautifully and make it completely relatable. I do so get ALL of this. The yelling into a void and what’s worse – that nobody hears it or that they do? You’re doing it. You’re showing up and being there and telling and sharing and making mine and everybody else’s worlds who read this just better. More complete and less alone. I thank you for that.

  15. April G says:

    Not sure I overcome it, I just keep going. You can only do so much and sometimes it’ll be great, most times it’ll be average and occasionally it’ll be bad. But your kids love you and that’s the only thing that matters.

    • Katia says:

      This is deeply appreciated. I am terribly sorry for taking so long to acknowledge how much I’ve appreciated the comments to this post. So many readers bared their own souls and I don’t mean to seem like I take that lightly, I’ve just been struggling to keep up. I completely agree with your assessment. Sometime ago I came to the conclusion that there isn’t any balance the only balance we can achieve is through a median of the good and bad. Sure some days ( most days are in the middle but they’re usually a little more good than bad or vice versa). If none of this makes sense it’s because I had about 5 non consecutive hours of sleep. For about a week… 🙂

  16. No brilliant insight from me. Just know that I often feel the same way and wonder how I ever thought I could do this. Then, we all wake up the next morning and roll with it again. I can’t take all the credit when things are great and I can’t take all the blame with things are crappy. I can just take it day by day. xxoo

  17. moraglucy says:

    Really related to this post thanks for sharing! Yes I feel like a child myself sometimes. Stumbling through life wondering if only I achieve this or acquire that, then maybe then I’ll feel like a grown up! Honestly I think most, if not all parents feel like this from time to time. For me it fluctuates some days I seem to get a lot achieved and there’s a natural flow to the day and the children are happy! Other days I am hard on myself and feel like I’m doing a terrible job at this parenting thing. Those days I have to remind myself we are all, adults and children alike, life long learners. We don’t have all the answers and we have to research the unknown together and alongside our children. I have just set up a new website please check it out http://childhoodwonder@wordpress.com

    • Katia says:

      So so so deeply appreciated and again apologies for what must seem like I’ve ignored the comment when in actuality I’ve just been struggling to keep up. Thank you for sharing your experience. I’ve been thinking about this lately. I think that some people are just born mature, otherwise I think we all feel like unprepared kids.

  18. Jay says:

    Anyone can have a baby, and the people who least should most often do. But those people don’t question whether they’re doing it right. They don’t even know there is a right way. The minute you start asking it of yourself, you’re already winning.

    • Katia says:

      I so appreciate this comment which I’ve read and internalized when it came in, but haven’t responded to until now because of some mad catch up I’ve been playing with life. I agree with you that the first step is questioning yourself. Those who don’t won’t change. I’m just stuck at questioning and need to take this to the next level. I’ve been making minis adjustments and scored little wins. Comments like this mean the world to me. ❤

  19. Such beautiful writing x

  20. alyssajland says:

    Thanks for offering such a real perspective on parenting. I am 10 weeks pregnant and it’s refreshing to have someone be honest about the ups and downs!

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much! This means the world to me! I often ask myself whether I need to censor what I tell non parent friends about parenting. I’ve come to the conclusion that while I should be cautious in real life it’s okay to write openly, as those who need to hear this will seek out the posts that speak to them. You’ve just confirms this. Congratulations and best of luck with your pregnancy. 🙂

  21. I really like your raw honesty, parenting is hard but wonderful isnt it!! http://www.polishedpurposefulpretty.com

  22. So nice to read this..Every night in bed , I’m like ‘I can’t do it anymore ‘ , ‘What should I try different tomorrow?’ ‘Why can’t I be like the other parents i see who seem to have it together?’ Sometimes we feel like we can never get it right. But the main thing is, if kids are happy and healthy then we’ve done something right 🙂

    • Katia says:

      Thank you SO much for this supportive comment (I can’t remember if I answered it upon reading it because sleep deprivation). I always feel different and inadequate in comparison to other parents. I think that self doubt (if not criticism) as parents can actually be a positive driving force. I think that it’s those who don’t question their actions as parents who are in trouble. xoxox

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