{Published earlier for SFGate.com/moms]

I remember my mom killing herself to keep everything equal between the three of us children. As parents, we are told that it is important to be consistent.

I was relieved to read in Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering, by Dr. Sarah J. Buckley that it is okay to be inconsistent because it's human nature. Have I ever cancelled an engagement or changed my mind about something? I feel relieved because it's hard work trying to line up the way Zack does things and the way that I do them. Buckley says:

Consistency between parents is artificial and unnecessary. ...I also believe that we can have different attitudes, thresholds, and responses, yet still parent together with ease.

I no longer have that nagging voice in my head saying that I am doing this whole mothering thing wrong when I let Mikey make a huge mess with the packaging poppers one day and not let him do it again the next day. Each day is different, each moment is different. Sometimes I feel more tolerant than other times.

If I say no to another book because I am tired from a day of fun with my little bundle of joy, but papa wants to read one more, fine. I don't need to feel like we're giving in to Mikey's attempt to delay bedtime.

Mikey is learning that at different times people are willing or unwilling to oblige. Buckley says, "Our children know that we will respond differently because we are different people. We don't want them to manipulate those differences, but it's okay to do things differently."

Since I have let go of the feeling that I need to be consistent, I feel more real and honest. Inconsistency has allowed Mikey to see more of me as a person and less of me as an authoritarian mom. I hope that he is learning how to be more true to himself as well.