Am I Doing This Right?

As a (relatively) new mother, I've come to the abrupt realization recently that I have no idea what I'm doing. Finally I realize why so many parents turn to other parents, mothers, parenting books and doctors for advice all the time. I think in the first year of life your main focus is to keep your kid alive. You have to make sure they are getting enough food, sleep, attention, playtime, etc. Then suddenly they begin to crawl and you must make sure to keep them out of harm's way and teach them how to master things like stairs and to refrain from using that chair that topples backwards to pull themselves up. You finally get to a point where you are trusting them more and more and then they start to walk. It's a whole new ballgame, walking. Suddenly, because they are mobile on two legs just like everyone else, they think they are big. They begin using their daily accumulated vocabulary not just to practice sounds, but to communicate ideas...or frustrations. They want to start doing things themselves and you want to let them. You try not to hover while they climb up the stairs and stand up dangerously close to the edge. You praise them for their good behavior and do your best to divert them from violent behavior (like hitting, scratching, and pinching), dangerous behavior (like running into the street), and annoying behavior (like screaming). Then you watch shows about a Fantastic English Caregiver who gives parents discipline coaching and see all these kids who's parents were just like you...doing their best to raise kids into productive members of society without really knowing how...and their kids went the complete opposite of their hopes. You see these little monsters and you think, "Oh, my kids will never be like that." How do you know??!! I sometimes see a stubbornness and defiance in my daughter at a tender age of 15 months that I didn't expect to encounter until her teen years and I wonder how I'm ever going to do this RIGHT. I don't want her to turn into a little monster because I let her get away with everything (which I don't)...yet I also don't want to be that overly controlling mother that every child hates because she won't let them be their own person. I want her to have all the opportunities in the world to choose from. I want her to be able to decide on her own what she likes and dislikes, what kind of person she wants to be, etc. I also want to pass on to her important pearls of wisdom I've strung around my neck over the years. How does one do all this right? If you know, I'd invite you to tell me. I'd guess that you don't. I don't think anyone does. In fact, I'm fairly certain every single parent in the world asks themselves after every parenting action, "Did I do that right? Did I do the best I could? Will I help them? Will I hinder them?" and so on. I guess I'll just do my best to try to live in the moment. Second guessing the past will do no good most of the time...and my hopes for her future are just that- hopes. It's likely that she'll go a completely different direction than I could ever imagine. It's likely there will be many mistakes, fun, heartache, joy, and surprises (happy and sad) over the course of her life. I'm sure she'll teach me more than I'll ever teach her. I just hope when she looks back on her youth she'll forget my mistakes and just see how much I love her and how much hope I will always have for her future.

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