To the Parents I Knew Four Years Ago: I'm Sorry
I have come to realize many things since having three children. For example, I now know that I can read "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" seven times in a row without going insane. No matter what people say, throw-up is throw-up and I don't care if it is my daughter who is throwing up but her throw-up makes me want to throw up. I am a really fast diaper changer. And it's true: love does not split, but grows with additional children.
But perhaps one of the biggest realizations I've made as a relatively new parent (my daughter turns 4 in March, my twin boys turn 2 in May) is how incredibly judgmental I was pre-children.
You, the woman at Kohl's who pushed a cart with your screaming toddler draped on the rack underneath it, ignoring her as she scraped her feet on the floor because she couldn't have the toy she wanted: I judged you.
Girlfriend with children who had Nick Jr. on the entire time I visited: I judged you.
Parent at the park who did not pack an organic, free-range, all-food-groups-represented, no-dessert lunch complete with sandwiches cut in cute little shapes, who instead fed your children chicken nuggets, cold French fries and (gasp) chocolate milk? I judged you.
Not out loud, of course. But internally, I was smug. I thought things like I would never have children who would behave in such a manner in public. Or, Doesn't she know the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV until the age of 2? Or, How can he possibly be feeding his children that crap? Has he not read any of Michael Pollan's books?
And what's worse, now that I'm a parent, I realize internal smugness isn't so internal. As a parent, I know when I'm being judged. I can sense it, even when nothing is being said out loud. It's in the look. The double-take. The whisper to the companion they're with.
It's hard not to care about what other people think. But still, that quiet judgment can sting, especially on days when my nerves are shot and my children are in the worst moods -- a combination that often leads to a situation judge-worthy by many.
But now, as a parent, I do things judge-worthy even when my children are being good. Last Thursday is a perfect example: My son had a physical therapy appointment a good half-hour drive away. On the way back from the appointment both of my boys fell asleep -- we had eaten lunch out, complete with Oreo cookies and Popsicles for dessert, (judge!) after the appointment and it was close to their naptime. Of course they fell asleep. My daughter, however, who has long given up naps (!), was still awake.
When I pulled into my driveway, I had two choices: Wake up the boys and deal with their short tempers having only slept for 25 minutes, or sit in the van with them while they slept, bribing my daughter with apps on my iPod and promises of candy once inside if she would just sit and be quiet for a half hour longer (!). I chose option B without blinking. And I left the car running (!) the entire time.
When the boys woke up, they were furious because of the cricks in their necks -- thanks to the car seats we bought without good head support to the side simply because they were cheaper (!). My daughter was at her wit's end with being trapped in a car seat in a car that wasn't going anywhere just because I wanted some peace and quiet (!). I took everyone inside, plopped them on the couch, got out some gummy candy and turned on "Little Bear." Two episodes. (!!)
Pre-children: I was going to cloth diaper.
Post-children: I did with my daughter, sort of, but not with my twins.
Pre-children: No TV until age of 2 and then only 30 minutes a day.
Pre-children: Only organic, healthy, homemade food.
Post-children: My kids love Wendy's.
Pre-children: Public tantrums are unacceptable.
Post-children: Removal of the child is only sometimes doable; predicting when a tantrum is going to strike is often impossible.
Pre-children: Complaints about childrearing and its hardships annoyed me (this was your choice, no?) and saddened me (parenthood is supposed to be a wonderful thing!).
Post-children: Parenthood isn't wonderful 100 percent of the time.
My day-to-day routine isn't what I envisioned it would be four years ago. Some of the things I imagine I'm judged on now are minor, others, a little more major. But mostly they are simple faults and I now know that they don't make me a bad parent. Sometimes I leave dirty diapers on the changing table. My children's socks don't always match. I forget to brush my daughter's hair. I use TV as a way to take a breather. I utilize the fast-food drive-thru. I bribe. I'm sometimes too easy. I'm sometimes too hard. I sometimes make the wrong decision, give the wrong punishment, ask too much, ask too little. But within all these minor and major faults is a singular truth: Most days, I'm doing the best I can. And I honestly believe that's a truth that can be applied to most parents: Most days, we're all doing the best we can.
Because here's another realization I've made as a parent: Everyone's situation is different. There is a story behind every action and inaction. Every parent has his or her own style. Every child has his or her own temperament. What might be a stellar day for my family has been a downright awful day for another -- perhaps the parent's job is in danger, their parent is sick or they just had an argument with their spouse. Perhaps the child is failing math or being bullied at school, or the toddler hasn't slept for two weeks. This can explain the short-temper in the grocery store or the harsher-than-necessary punishment, or the lack of care when it comes to sweets or TV or a late bedtime. We don't know, can't know, someone's entire story.
That said, I believe there are absolutes in parenting so yes, sometimes, I still judge. (And I realize that the irony of this piece is that in writing about not judging others, I'm now judging those who judge.) I know that, for some, it's impossible to provide their children with life's basic necessities: food, clothing and shelter. But I believe we, as parents, must try. I believe we must do what we can to protect our children from harm. I believe we should always love our children, even when, especially when, we don't like their actions, we disagree with their decisions or we're just having a difficult day with them.
But everything else is minor. Everything else doesn't matter. There are children who are abused, who go to bed hungry, who have never known love, and four years ago I was judging the toddler who watched an hour of "Sesame Street"?
I feel bad about my pre-children smugness. I feel bad about the sting I may have, unknowingly, made another feel. I feel bad -- and laugh out loud at the thought -- that I, at one time, before I had children, believed I knew better. Parenting is difficult enough -- there's no reason we should judge one another, not for the things that don't matter, anyway, and not for the things we see a snippet of rather than knowing the full story.
So to the parents I knew four years ago, I'm sorry. I know better now.
I've noticed a new (okay, not so new) trend of "unawesome Mommy" "confessional" type things gone viral. Obviously these appeal to a lot of people.
Do you think that such things are so popular because they are so "real" and "honest" or simply because they are other people admitting that they quit on their goals, so make the reader identify and feel better about quitting on their own.
Are pieces like this positive, or negative trends in parenting/mothering as a whole? Are they making it more okay to have no goals, or to feel like you are part of a club of people who "failed" and think that its awesome or funny or can make you rich by writing wittily about your own failures? Or are they making it more normal to just be "normal" and be okay with it?
The bolding is mine. Do you believe that everything short of "abuse or neglect" is actually "minor"?
I dont think all bloggers are admitting that they quit their goals, they are admitting that they can adjust their goals and still be great parents. I think most parents have to adjust goals at some point in time, either because the goals were unrealistic, or circumstances changed. We can either feel like failures or not. I think this author is feeling like she has succeeded in her parenting.
I think this is a positive trend. Much healthier then the trend of "Supermoms" that do it all without breaking a sweat or asking for help. In the real world, a lot of us need help from time to time, "Supermom" made us feel inferior for asking for help. Most of us make mistakes from time to time (or EVERY SINGLE DAY) and "supermom" made us feel like failures.
I have a whole list of things that I said I would NEVER do, and have since done. Most of them I realize are because they were pretty lame "nevers" Some of them have been because our lives are completely different then we planned our family. And some are because I have 4 children with wildly different personalities and needs. But honestly I feel better about my parenting now then what I was doing before.
And I dont think everything short of abuse or neglect is minor, but there are so many shade of gray between perfect and awful that I would have at a really large look into a family before I could feel comfortable to assume or judge anything about that family.
Molly, Morgan, Mia and Carson
I didn't like the article. It sounds like the quitting type attitude, like she is saying, "let's all just suck at parenting together". I certainly get that ones perspective on parenting changes once you actually have kids - there is no doubt that is true, but it is as if she says "screw it, just do what you need to do to get by". I don't think articles like this one are helpful.
I have read some funny mommy blogs. I got a kick out of this one...
I actually liked this article. I don't think it's about quitting, but instead about unreasonable expectations, judging others and perfectionism. For me the point here is that we all need to cut each other, and ourselves some slack. We ourselves strive so hard to be perfect (or at least I do), but sometimes life has other plans. I think this article sums up how I feel about the point of the article in the OP. http://www.livescience.com/6724-dark...m-revealed.htm
And all children are NOT created equally. My brother and I are stark opposites. If people only saw my brother and how he behaved as a child, they would probably judge my parents. If they only saw me (the calm, agreeable, docile child), they would probably think my parents were stellar parents. Yet we were raised by the same parents who used the same parenting techniques. How children act is not 100% due to the parenting technique.
I think there is nothing wrong with the simple message that sometimes your perspective changes between before and after kids and that due to that your parenting philosophies change slightly too. Thats totally reasonable and i'd say even expected to some degree.
Obviously i don't think its okay to simply just abandon all your goals because they just seem too hard to bother anymore.
There's a difference between admitting to putting your kids down in front of the tv one day because you were at your wits end....and embracing that and saying you are cool with it.
I think its dangerous to turn your back on your goals and continuously validate your reasons why you did. I think its better instead to look at those times where you might 'deviate' from your plan as blips in the radar.....with your goal being to stick to your original plan if you had good reasons to stick to that plan to begin with.
I don't agree with the author's sentiment that everything besides food shelter and protection from harm is minor and doesn't matter.
I really liked this article. I did a fist pump even...
ABeautifulLife123 pretty much nailed it! Parent your children individually!
I believe these articles are popular for both reasons. There is a sense of relief when you read that other parents unravel from time to time, and knowing that you are not alone is a wonderful feeling.
I also think they are making motherhood what it is was meant to be: real. Erma Bombeck made herself famous poking fun at motherhood, when it was not at ALL popular to do so. These women are doing a fine job of channeling her and making us all wake up and laugh at ourselves again.
To the last question: It is not as simple as that. Again, you have to parent each child as an individual. What will devastate one might not phase the other at tall. But in way? I do think anything short is minor. When we make mistakes as parents, our children have an opportunity to learn from that, as we do. To raise a human being to get ready for all the world will throw at them, I believe seeing both good and bad parenting moments is more helpful than harmful.
The article OP'ed is about the goals you set prior to parenting, and what you do after you actually have kids. Glennon Milton's articles is about how parenting isn't always enjoyable and why thats okay.
Y'all have to remember that blogs are just what that person is feeling that day. I doubt that it sums up her entire parenting paradigm. It's just another side of the coin. But I don't live on one side or the other and I don't belive anyone else does either (and if you think you can, then I don't believe it is healthy). But the media is nothing but a pendulum. First you get all the crap on one side and then it goes the other way and you get the crap on the other to weigh it all out. The pendulum has to keep swinging to keep people interested.
But no one lives on one side or the other just like a pendulum can't just stop to one side.
I would hate to live my life based solely on the ideology of this one article. But I would also hate to live my life based on the ideology of the articles on the other side of the coin, too. But I like reading about them and taking away what I feel is helpful. So to answer the op, no I don't think this blog is all that harmful or perpetuates laziness or makes it ok to not have goals. I just think it evens it out. The people who have the issues are the people who think it is all one way or the other and so either completely embrace this article as the one true truth or think everything in it is garbage.