Last month, I came across a book entitled “How to do Everything Right”. I had to chuckle-I’ve been looking for this book my whole life! I considered the impact of this pressure I’ve always experienced to ALWAYS do EVERYTHING right. Particularly after our first baby, I am certain this pressure was a significant contributor to my own postpartum emotional distress.
I wasn’t not alone in this boat: many women who suffer from problems in postpartum adjustment have high expectations of themselves and others, often even striving to be perfect. When we have a child, this intense desire to do it “right” (because there must be a “right” way!) becomes extremely difficult to manage. You see, there are so many decisions (ie. breastfeed, bottle feed, or both? work outside the home full-time, part-time, or at work at home full-time? child care? sleep training? on and on and . . . you get the idea). Surely there is a right answer for each of these questions?
It’s so difficult to accept that there is not one right path for so many decisions in caring for babies and children. The trouble is, each one insists upon being an individual! With his/her own temperament, interacting with each parent’s temperament, as they are trying to sort out how to be a team in this parenting business . . . you can see how “one size fits all” doesn’t! To make it even more fun, just when we parents sort it out, the little one moves into a different developmental stage, requiring a new approach!
I hope to help expecting and new parents move toward gentle compassion for themselves as they make this journey. All of these decisions are theirs to make: with love, with determination, and with joy. Yes, it is an awesome responsibility we have as parents, to raise loving people who will make the world a better place. We will do that better from a place of confidence rather than fear-we don’t have to do it perfectly, just good enough.