Every large company has a quality control department, a division to monitor the work of the company and make sure the products produced are of the highest quality. The quality control department monitors the company to ensure it keeps on the right track.
As a Mom, I am constantly concerned about whether I am a "good parent". Constantly worried about how my parenting will affect my children. Am I a good Mom? Am I raising my kids correctly?
But unfortunatly for me, I don't have a quality control department. I don't have a monitoring system to keep my parenting skills in check. No one to ensure my kids will turn out "normal" under my watch.
Of course, some parents follow studies, parenting articles, books, etc. as a sort of "quality control" check. But after a couple years of watching other parents do this and get so bent out of shape if their child did not do exactly what Dr. So-n-So said he would do at age 2, I decided this was not a route I would take. I ignore those sheets the doctors give which state what a child should be doing at a certain age. How is some doctor going to know exactly when my sons or daughter should walk, talk, or learn something new?? In fact, the only reason why I read parenting magazines is to get some new ideas for games to play or recipes for an easy weeknight supper.
Now for me, I have retained my own panel of parenting experts. Three experts that can truly tell me if I am being a great Mom: J, H, and L.
Now this quality control department admittedly does not act like regular departments. Instead of providing me a report, written warnings, or survey results; they provide me my information in suttle ways.
My favorite way I gain information on how I am doing as a Mom is by watching or listening to my children play. When they are pretending to play Mom or house I watch carefully. I smile when I see my kids saying as they play...."I love you to the moon and back", "Make sure and eat your veggies", "Always sing the ABCs when you wash your hands". I will never forget watching my daughter from a doorway (where she couldn't see me) as she sang the lullabyes that I sing to her to her favorite doll. And I'll never forget the first time H looked at me and said "Momma, you're my best friend".
I also listen for clues on my parenting from people that are with my kids when I'm not around. A classic example is a sleepover at Nana's house. I love when my Mom will report that my kids said so many great things about me or missed me and just wanted to give me a hug.
I wish I could tell you its only good things I see, but alas I have to see the bad as well. After a busy week of work one week I found out from my Mom that my daughter was playing house and asked my Mom to watch her kids because she said: "I have a lot of depositions this week". I must admit that although my Mom thought it was quite cute, I paid extra attention to her for the next couple of days as I felt guilty that I was working too much. One night I overheard H having a nightmare, and heard him saying "I didn't do it Mommy". It made me immediately question: was I being too hard on him? Oh and yes, who could forget the time I went to the Mother's Day Luau at my daughter's school and was handed a little interview that my daughter took about me. When asked: "What does Mommy always say?" My daughter responded: "Go to your room". Well, at least it was better than the Mom who had "Don't talk to me" on her paper.
So, the good, the bad...I really listen to my kids and determine what I should keep on doing and things I need to change. By their words and actions I can tell what I need to do differently and what they need from me. And so while others are rushing out to buy the next best seller on top parenting tips, I will learn from the source and take their feedback to help me be the best mother I can. I don't need a doctor to tell me if my kids are happy, "normal", "on track", they tell me each and every day in there own creative ways.