Being a parent requires that you are always learning new skills. You are always out of your comfort zone. In short, you are continually a beginner. And for some of us, that is an incredibly tall order.
This is never truer than when you are a new parent!! EVERYTHING is new, almost every detail of your life has changed and you’re looking for anything to grab onto to maintain your orientation and sense of self.
How do you respond to being a newbie at something? For so many of the women I know and work with, being a beginner, essentially being bad at something, makes them feel overwhelmed and irritable. Bottom line, it makes them fearful.
We have been trained by our families, school and work that being bad at something is not okay. We are graded and evaluated on how quickly we are able to master new concepts and skills. That feeling of not knowing how to do something can trigger old memories of not feeling good enough and feeling the pressure to not fail. The problem with this is that we have to be bad at something at first if we are ever to learn a new skill. Being a beginner is an essential phase of becoming a master. It is unavoidable.
So many of us spend our lives strategically avoiding having to be a beginner.
We stick to a career we are trained for and hobbies we are already familiar with. For many new moms that have been out of school for at least a decade and are well established in their careers, they have not been a beginner at something in a long time. Meaning, this is maybe the first time in over a decade that you have been bad at something. Can you relate?
Here is the rub: your comfort level with begin a beginner is a great predictor of your stress level as a parent.
If you are comfortable being bad at something and learning to improve, parenting won’t feel as hard. However, if being new at something is a stress trigger for you, then parenting can feel like a real struggle.
You may find yourself constantly comparing yourself to moms that don’t seem to be stressed out by parenting. We all know her, she is always calm, she has time to take care of herself, her kids aren’t perfect but she never seems rushed or overwhelmed.
BUT BEWARE: Comparing yourself to others is crap for lots of reasons. Here are two big ones:
- You never really know what is going on with a person. Ever. Period.
- And most importantly, it doesn’t help you improve.
The truth is that the big difference between you and the unstressed mom is that she has a different comfort level with being a beginner. She is able to be bad at something and trust that she will improve. To her, being bad at something is not a sign of failure, it is a sign of learning and progress.
So when you find yourself beating yourself up for sucking at some aspect of parenting, take a moment, breathe and give yourself a freakin’ break. Even if you have been a parent for a long time, kids are constantly changing and our skills must grow and change with them – so we are always learning. It is natural. It is to be expected.