One of the hardest things about parenting is that, as the primary care givers, we are responsible for a lot of decisions day in day out.
Some of these decisions are big (shall we start potty training today?) and some are small (should I let him have one more biscuit?)
But there are always consequences. Again some big and some small.
But the thing about making the decisions (of course this is true if dads or even grandparents or childcare settings are the primary caregiver), is that you are the one/s responsible for those consequences.
When those consequences are good (he potty trains in three days), you feel the most immense sense of success, pride and achievement.
When those consequences are bad (he is up four hours past his bedtime because he’s on a sugar high from that extra biscuit), it is crushing.
All the good things can temporarily be cancelled out by the terrible decision you made. Especially if that decision means your child is hurt or it deprives you of sleep.
But remember this:
Most, if not all, of the decisions we beat ourselves up about are not terrible decisions. They don’t even have terrible consequences. A late bedtime is inconvenient. But it is not terrible.
Every day we make hundreds of decisions, subconsciously, which have positive outcomes and consequences for our children.
We get up in the night with them. We get up at the crack of dawn (sometimes before!) even though we’re desperate to stay in bed. We feed them breakfast. We dress them. We help them brush their teeth. We cuddle them if they fall over. We tell them we love them. We read them a book.
We show them we love and care for them. Yes, it’s crap to be woken up in the night, especially when you’re blaming yourself for something you might/might not be doing. It feels awful to get angry and refuse your child a different dinner because they wont eat the meal you’ve prepared. It’s rubbish to have your children’s routine disrupted because of something you’ve chosen to do.
But, it is not your fault.
And, if anything, those decisions we make which have less-than-ideal consequences?
They’re the ones we learn from.