- a parent's affirmation -

 
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I thought reading to my baby would be a whole lot easier

I wanted to do everything right when my daughter was born. The pediatrician said, "Read to her as soon as possible." News articles drew a correlation between the number of words she would hear in her first year of life and how successful she would be in adulthood. Armed with a full library of children’s books, I was ready. I would not fail my baby.

 
 

So at one week old, we started reading. That is to say, I read, Josie couldn’t have been less interested. She seemed somewhere between bored and not even aware of what was happening. But I was determined to be a “good mommy” and dutifully read little stories about farm animals and silly rhyming creatures to my adorable bump on a log.

I did it daily and I gave it my all. I didn’t just read Dr. Suess, I became him. I inhabited the characters. I did voices. I would go off script. I would improvise. Meryl Streep, herself, would have given me a standing ovation.

 
 
 

BUT SHE
WAS NOT feeling it.

I felt like a failure; being home on maternity leave without any adults around all day, reading baby books to a cute but unappreciative audience. Then it occurred to me: Children’s books weren’t my only option. Magazines, the newspaper, blogs...  It all counted as “words spoken to my child in her first year”. I could read anything!

I had found the loophole. 

But this made me feel like a different kind of failure. I was technically fulfilling my duty of “reading to my child”, but what was she getting out it? Worse, what was I really getting? I wasn’t connecting with her or myself in those moments...

I felt like a failure
— every parent ever
 
 
 

Writing this book helped me get more from those moments.

So rarely in life do we congratulate ourselves. "A job well tried." "Progress gained." These are deserving of praise too. Parent support groups have become the norm to help pick each other back up. We have an easier time hearing an affirmation from a friend than we do saying it out loud. But many times the moment you need that boost is when you are one on one with your child.

 
 
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I want to fill that need for a pat on the back from within.

One you don't get from someone else but could give yourself. I hope every parent can take a few moments to sit down with their child and read aloud these parental affirmations. Let your child trace the happy faces while you gain a much needed moment of assurance.

Remember, you are enough.