Every time my kids have a meltdown in public or at home when someone happens to be over, half my energy is spent trying to calm my children while the other half is spent wondering what the other people witnessing my parenting fail must think of me.

Wow. She really has no control over her children whatsoever.

Then I imagine they must think— how ironic that Ilana writes a parenting blog when she is the WORST parent!

I’m sad to say, I feel this way rather often.

But I’ve also noticed something else. Whenever someone else’s child has a tantrum in front of me, whether the parents are friends or total strangers, I never jump to the conclusion they are terrible parents.

I think the following:

1) Oh my god, I’m so glad it’s not just my kids.

2) I bet they feel totally stressed in this moment; I hope they realize I am not one to judge.

3) In fact, I kind of enjoy other people’s children having a meltdown. (Particularly in the company of my husband because we’ll usually exchange a smile that says, “See? It’s not just us!”)

4) I should hang out this person more often! We totally get each other!

I feel the same way about parents with messy houses and parents who pack half-assed lunches and parents who forget to bring permission slips for school field trips on the required dates.

I think— well, this person is a GREAT mom and she put off her back-to-school shopping until the store was sold out of composition notebooks also, so… I can’t be so bad!

It’s funny how we give other people a pass that we don’t give ourselves.

I’ve been letting a lot of random people into my life recently for blog related stuff like videos and photo shoots, which always makes me a bit nervous. It’s different than writing about my kids when everything is firmly under my control. Each time, I fear I am letting them in on a big secret— I suck at parenting. They witness my kids misbehaving and then they see me either being too strict or too lenient and not being effective in either case. They see I use sweets to get my kids in line, I resort to screen time too often and I run around trying to meet their demands because sometimes it’s easier than teaching them to do things for themselves.

But then the people leave and tell me how amazing my kids have been and how it’s such a pleasure to work with me and I’m left wondering— do I see things differently in my head than they really are? Is the whining not as annoying as I imagine? Are my failings not as obvious to an outsider? Do the good parenting moments outweigh the bad and I just can’t see them?

You know how your kid does something small, like draw a stick figure or stack a few blocks and you think it’s the most amazing feat any child has ever accomplished? Perhaps parents magnify the bad moments in the exact same way.

It’s your kid, so the meltdowns feel bigger, badder, louder.

When I used to film The Mommy Show, I knew the whole point was for my kids to make it super difficult for me to conduct interviews. But yet, in the moment, I was always mortified my children were jumping on the couch or refusing to do what I said, in front of my very important guests.

Watching the videos back, it never comes across like I’m a bad mom during the show. The moments of Mazzy acting up or not sitting still were the best parts of the episodes— because it was real and funny, not because it was an example of horrific parenting.

I try to remember that lesson whenever my kids are misbehaving. They are just acting like kids. And two seconds later they are cuddly and wonderful and all is forgotten.

I guess what I want to say is that if you feel like you are not the best parent, know you are probably the only one who thinks that way. I don’t think nearly as many people are judging as we are made to believe. And the good parents are more likely the ones who spend time wondering if they are doing a good enough job.

When I see moms with crying kids at the school bus stop or hear the tone in their voice when they apologize for forgetting about a playdate, I don’t look down at them.

I relate to them.

Whenever I post about an issue I’ve had with my kids, at least one person comments with “the struggle is real” or “story of my life”. These phrases are used so frequently, I don’t think much of them. But there’s a larger meaning that’s important for us all to hear.

These parents are saying— don’t sweat it. It happens to us all. 

I’m going to try to remember that the next time my kids get mad over a bowl of cereal or a wrong colored cup.

It’s not me being a bad parent. It’s just part of raising kids.

Today, as part of the Minute Maid’s Doin’ Good campaign, which aims to dispel the self-doubt many moms and dads experience, I am giving away a $250 Visa gift card in the comments below.

You must be a Mommy Shorts Facebook Fan or a Mommy Shorts subscriber to enter.

Just talk about your own feelings of parental self-doubt or acknowledge a moment where you allowed yourself to be proud of something you did as a parent— whether it’s something you do daily like make sure you eat dinner as a family or something that happened once, like the time you squashed a meltdown with a really good distraction.

Lately, I’ve gotten better at pinpointing the things that make Harlow laugh (like pretending to eat her belly or singing the crocodile version of Row Your Boat). It doesn’t work every time but sometimes I can use them to stop a melt down.

Being able to channel Harlow’s fits into fits of laughter is one my best parenting tools and when someone witnesses me being able to make the transition, I truly feel like a great mom for that moment.

And then Mazzy starts whining because I’m giving Harlow too much attention and I question myself all over again.

winner update:

And the winner is… Heather B – congrats! Please contact annie@mommyshorts.com to claim your prize!


This post was sponsored by Minute Maid but all thoughts and opinions are my own.