What Daniel Tiger taught me

You know how in every Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood episode there’s a little ditty that drives home the lesson?

Okay, so maybe you’re not as well-versed in this Mister Rogers remake show as I am, but it’s super cute. And yes, in each episode a red-sweatered Daniel Tiger learns something and conveniently has a song to help us remember it (or it just become ingrained in our brains whether we wanted it or not).

Well, there’s one that goes:

“Do your best, your best is the best for you.”

I had it stuck in my head for days after my daughter watched the show. And I realized it’s just as relevant for me as an adult and a mom as it for kids competing in sports or comparing abilities.

It’s way too easy to look around and see how I don’t measure up. I don’t even have to glance at other moms to feel like I fall short –  I just have to remember the ideal I have for myself. Apparently my self-imposed standards are quite high.

I’d like to think I can do everything I did before, but now with two kids in tow. I’d like to think I can be that mom that has style and grace. I’d like to think I can be a shining example of calm and gentle parenting.


Reality looks quite different.

I plan my errands to include the fewest stops as possible, cause who wants to wrestle a wriggling, complaining one-year-old into their car seat more than absolutely necessary? I yell just as much as the next mom. When my toddler asks me to pick her up, I only say yes about half the time. Sometimes I just want a clean counter, so I wash dishes instead of sitting on the couch with some crayons.

And I feel guilty. For all of it. Everything I don’t do, everything I do but not very well. All the times I brush off my kids when they just want me to read another story. For checking my phone instead of really paying attention to whatever it is my oldest is jabbering about.

“Do your best, your best is the best for you.”

Some moms’ best looks quite different than mine. Maybe they’re capable of having a sparkling clean house while teaching their kids multiplication, but I don’t think that’s me. My best is different, and I’m slowly learning that it’s okay.

It doesn’t mean I can’t do better. It doesn’t mean I won’t put down my dishtowel more often when the requests come for me to push them in their cozy coupe or tuck their baby in a toy crib. I am working on letting my to-do list go – or at least make it shorter and more realistic than it used to be – and embracing all the chaos that comes with little ones.

It’s so hard to stop the comparison game … and even to let go of my own ideals, but I’m trying. I’m trying my best.

Thanks, Daniel Tiger.

Cheryl Hazelton
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