I attended a parenting meeting the other day, and a question was posed to the room: if you could give one piece of parenting advice to a new mother, what would it be? There were wonderful answers, including, Sleep with your baby, and Do your research, and Take care of yourself…In my defense, I was the last around the circle, but I said with genuine feeling, “Well, I think probably the best advice I have for a new mother is that you’re going to mess your kids up.” I tend towards flippancy, a little bit, don’t I? Oh dear. I didn’t mean at all that we shouldn’t always strive to be excellent…but it just doesn’t always happen. I should have added to that, that children are very resilient, and to try to be kind–to yourself and your babies. I suppose I was trying to be a little bit funny. But I do think this is true, I really do. We all screw our kids up, and then we send them into the world, hoping they can do a little bit better than we did.
I was sitting with a friend last night, and we had just talked about everything under the sun, and she told me that she was worried that she had already damaged her son. Let me try to explain to you that this is a dear dear friend of mine, and one of the loveliest people and most conscientious mothers I know. And her son is just the sweetest one-year old on the planet. But as in every family, there is some stress and strife. Not everything is harmonious. Things aren’t quite what she had imagined. I told her that I understood *exactly* how she felt. And that from the bottom of my heart, the very best advice I can give…is “Get over it.”