So often parents stretch themselves to the point of exhaustion, frustration, and even sheer rage thinking they're doing something wrong or that they somehow need to be better.
It's never enough. I'm doing my best!
This is what many of us parents say, as if we're defending our lives on the responsibilities and chores we think we're supposed to be accomplishing with the expertise of a trained fighter.
But what if your best is actually good enough?
What is it parents worry about failing at the most? Not having well-behaved, intelligent children? Not being able to adequately Juggle jobs, care-taking duties, and relationships? Not keeping up with the laundry?
Do parents worry so much because they're competing with other parents, or because they're struggling to live up to their own standard of the kind of parent they think they should be?
Granted, not all parents feel pressure from their parental peers or worry about how they're parenting, but I would argue that a great handful of parents do feel it.
Otherwise there wouldn't be so many blogs and articles on the internet letting parents know that being tired and fed up is okay. There wouldn't be such a desire from parents to relate to one another. There wouldn't be that comfort factor in knowing you're not the only one who's frustrated.
Parenting shouldn't feel so arduous when it's already something that consumes your entire being.
It's enough that you gave life to your child or children, and spend each and every day worrying about, caring for, feeding, and clothing them. It really is. Beyond that, anything else you accomplish is a bonus.
And this is where I think the problem lies.
Do you remember when you were a kid in school and there were those students in the class (this may have been you) who were so good at everything that they got extra credit? Not only did these kids get 100% on everything but they somehow ended up with 110% due to bonus points for exceptional work.
I believe many of us parents feel we need to be that kid. The one that has so much extra credit racked up from bonus points that we outrank everyone else and are essentially winning at parenting.
But what's so great about being up on that over-achieving pedestal? Frankly, if I feel exhausted just doing the basics of parenting (the kids are alive, relatively happy, fed, and clothed) then how must the "over-achiever" parents feel?
Where do they get energy for all those extra curricular activities, tournaments, sleepovers, play dates, camping trips, and PTA meetings? Have they tapped into some energy source I'm unaware of?
They definitely deserve a high-five, or at least a long nap. But doing those things is their choice. It's not necessarily a standard for the rest of us.
My point is that any parent out there who is worried they aren't "keeping up" is already doing their best. The fact that a parent worries about their child having enough friends, if they're depressed, if they're keeping up in class, or if they spend enough "quality time" is evidence of good work already being done. That parent is already on it.
The sleepless nights, endless diapers, whining, potty training, crayon on the walls, bloody noses, fights, sulking, and whatever else you can think of that ordinary parents attend to on a daily basis is enough to break even the most patient and compassionate of us all.
Some parents are dealing with heartbreaking realities regarding their children, such as terminal illness and disease on a daily basis. When you think about that, the cleaning and whining doesn't seem so bad.
If you have a child who smiles back at you everyday, you're already winning.
The dedication we put toward worrying about our children and making sure they don't get injured or die is immense. The responsibility of being in charge of human beings who take everything out of you mentally, emotionally, and physically is seriously hard work. This is why parents are so happy to connect and relate to one another.
And it's not that all parents are miserable. It's just that many of us get sidetracked by comparing ourselves to other parents, even on our most confident days. Many of us also compare our way of parenting to how our own parents did it. We either want to be completely different than they were or emulate them, depending on the situation.
It's natural to compare. But in the end, we just have to take stock of everything we have and are doing for our children. A lot of the time it's things we don't want to do. Things that give us pain and tears. Things that make us want to crawl into a cave and never come out. And other times it's stuff that puts delicious grins on our children's lips, light in their eyes, and bubbling giggles in their bellies.
We also need to start being more grateful for the children we do have, instead of feeling they need to be more like this or more like that - because you never know what's around the corner and everything you complain about today could seem like small peas tomorrow.
We're all on our own paths of parenting. And for those of parents worried about how your children will turn out or feeling the exasperation of parental fatigue - your best actually is good enough.
More from Michelle: "The Real Reason You Feel Jealous and How to Use it to Your Advantage http://hubpages.com/health/The-Real-Reason-You-Feel-Jealous
Originally a Vancouver Island native, Michelle now resides in California. Besides pursuing her creative passions, Michelle is a mother, stepmother, and wife.
Catch more intriguing reads at The Pondering Nook website and Facebook page. Topics include society, culture, relationships, parenting, step-parenting, health, domestic violence, adultery, and more.