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Inside parenting Soul-Searching

Motherhood: How Can We Be Wrong When We Don’t Know What’s Right?

I very rarely write about motherhood these days. Largely because this blog’s purpose was to be a safe space to explore my own interests and discover who I am beyond the ‘mum’ label.

Whilst I have a number of other roles in life – wife, friend, sister, daughter, employee, dog owner, ‘chief cook and bottle washer’ – my greatest (and most important) role has always been motherhood. It’s probably the one that rightly or wrongly, consumes most of my time and thoughts. For this reason, on occasion, I feel compelled to put thoughts to keyboard…

Back in the Day

When my three children were small, I was fortunate enough to be able to stay at home with them. I use the term ‘fortunate’ loosely as daily life with little ones can be mind-numbingly boring at times! What I really mean, is that I was fortunate enough to have the choice that many don’t. Although I questioned my suitability to the role on a daily basis, deep down I knew it was where I wanted to be.

Right from the get go, I took motherhood seriously; I wanted to do it right (FYI I’m an enneagram 1 followed closely by a 6 –  this might explain things a bit!). I bought all of the parenting books (I still have an entire shelf of said books) went on every available course and was pretty confident in my ability to parent. Even during some challenging moments with my feisty middle child, I thought I was doing a good job. In short, I had things (mostly) under control.

A Crisis of Confidence

Then my eldest daughter reached the age of 14 and things began to unravel.

My confidence as a mum nose-dived as a result and I was back to questioning if I was cut out for motherhood: Why had I not noticed sooner that she was struggling? Why didn’t I instinctively know how to help?

I wrestled with such questions a lot in the early days of my daughter’s struggles. On the whole, I think that I’m out the other side now but when a tricky day hits, I can overthink past actions like a pro. Before I know it, I’ve written myself off as a bad mother who is doing it all wrong.

It wasn’t until a few weeks ago, when a wise friend made what she thought was a passing comment, that the penny finally dropped…

how can we be wrong when we don't know what's right?

A Lightbulb Moment

We’ve all made mistakes (none of us are perfect after all) but what I had never really considered, is what actually is right and who declares it so? In this instance for example, who decides what is right when it comes to parenting? I mean the books on my shelf contradict one another for a start!

The truth is, we do what we think is right at the time, with the small amount of information that we have (if only these kids came with their own personal handbook, hey?).

Why the ramble today? Because I know 100% that I won’t be the only one who has beaten myself up over something that went wrong (or what our heads say is ‘wrong’), or maybe turned out differently than we would have liked. Our instinct is often to look for blame and we are usually at the front of the firing line.

If that’s you, please take my (or my friend’s) little nugget above away with you today. It’s so simple but has helped me no end and I hope that it helps you too. We are all doing our best at this thing called life/parenting and we can’t do more than that.

Keep on keeping on my friends.

Inside, Outside & Beyond




  • Lisa

    Thank you x

  • Nipa

    So true, Suzanne! It makes me crazy when other parents are judgmental, or even when they offer advice based on their experience of childhood. Parenting is so unique to the times we live in, the environment our children grow up in, and the individual personalities in our families… not to mention the curveballs that life throws us. It’s too complex to say we’re doing it right or wrong. XO Nipa

  • Very wise words indeed! We can only do what we think is right at that moment – and what is right for your family might not be right for my family. And indeed what may be right for one of our own children may not be right for the others. x

  • I Joyce

    When my children were growing up I used to think I was doing it all wrong or just not a good mother. Like you someone made a comment that resonated with me and just changed my mindset.
    She said.. you are the perfect mother for your children because gave them to you and God does not make a mistake.

  • Gail

    So true, Suzanne, and something I have been thinking about a bit myself lately. We all do things, with the best of intentions, which at the time we think are right. Sometimes looking back with hindsight I wish I had done certain things differently – with regards to both parenting and lots of other things in life. It’s too easy to beat ourselves up, though, isn’t it? We have to give ourselves a break sometimes and work from the place in which we find ourselves right now. x

  • Kerri-Ann Hargreaves

    I think we have to trust our gut, our own instincts and remember that we’re doing the best. I think we’ve all been guilty of judging others, but remembering that each to their own and not to pass judgement or put our opinions on others. I hope everyone is well

  • Jenny Taylor

    So agree Suz I am constantly trying to know what’s right and wrong and if I am messing up my kids or doing this motherhood thing wrong and worrying about how they will turn out. it’s so scary. Who does declare right and wrong great point. Every child is different too so we might be right by one child and the next it might not be what they need. My two eldest ones couldn’t be farther from each other in that perspective.

  • Oftencalledcathy

    That’s something I really needed to hear, thank you!

    • Suzanne W

      I’m glad you found it helpful. Hope you’re okay. xx

  • Parenting is the hardest thing in the world. I constantly question myself. As a therapist, I see firsthand how one little comment, action or tone of voice can be misinterpreted and have knock-on effects and it’s made me super-aware of everything I say and do. Probably not healthy really. I have to really work to remind myself that we’re all doing the best we can with what we’ve got (the kids included) and that it really will all be ok in the end. All they need is infinite amounts of unconditional love – as long as they get that then the rest of the stuff that happens is inconsequential.

    • Suzanne W

      I think our situation has made me hyper vigilant too, Chloe. It doesn’t make for peaceful parenting! But as you say, we really are all doing our best. xx

  • Hi Suzanne, it’s been a while since I have dropped by. As you know I have taken a step back to re-evaluate many things and motherhood is definitely there at the top of the list, because as you say it’s what we do 24/7 however old they are. Parenting/mothering it’s a daily challenge and it just doesn’t stop. We can only do what we think is right and yes we will get it wrong sometimes and when we do we tend to just beat ourselves up. But over the past couple of months I have realised that the bits of mothering that maybe made things wrong can also make them right if that makes any sense – like over mothering, over worrying and goodness we all have a degree in that for sure. Dear friends always have the wise words don’t they and those passed onto me are “look foward, not back, outwards not inwards.” You/we do what we can and what feels right and who can do anymore? Much love x

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