I think we can all agree how difficult parenting can actually be. I mean, I have yet to meet a family who casually and calmly swings by the vines of parenthood like those in Full House or Family Matters seem to do.
Those television families were equipped with the ideal parents who solved all their problems with ideal outcomes. I have yet to meet the crew who claims to have it all figured out. I have yet to come face-to-face with the parenting experts who are actually experts at parenting.
Despite ideal parents being non-existent, I am stuck wondering why we – and I mean WE – all think that others have it more put together than ourselves.
We are all wondering that same question: “what would so-and-so do?”
Unfortunately, we get stuck on the word of others while trying to give our children the best of ourselves. We listen to what “they said” because we are totally lost in our own parenting abyss. We place our own intuition aside because “they” must know what’s best.
But who exactly are “they” and why do “they” know more about our own families than we do? Here are a few times when “they” can shove it, because they clearly have not stepped a foot in my – and I’m sure your – house:
“They” say you shouldn’t allow your baby to fall asleep on you, like, ever.
Once upon a time there was a new mother who couldn’t get her child to sleep anywhere but her chest. Because “they” said she would be spoiling her new baby if said baby always slept on her chest, she decided to drop what was working at the time and do something that would drive her and her entire family insane.
Listen Cheryl, if the baby needs to sleep on my chest and I, in turn, get to nap as well, then so be it. I can promise you that this baby will not be sleeping on my chest when he’s 18.
Ideal parents say you shouldn’t put any seasoning in your baby’s food when starting out solids.
Let me ask “they” something here: do you like unseasoned bland food? No? Well, then what gives you the impression that a baby who grew in a woman’s body and ate the same foods as she did wouldn’t like a bit of salt and paprika in their diet?
We tried feeding our son some boring shit before it occurred to us that this bland stuff sucked. If we wouldn’t eat it, why would the kid? We hummed and hawed over this predicament because “they” said to feed bland food to get the kid adjusted to textures and flavours. However, our kid would never eat bland food on the regular because we don’t eat bland food. Wouldn’t you believe that once we started spicing up the bland mashed sweet potato and giving him some of our special guacamole, he started eating like a champ – for a while, that is.
Who is this advice for anyway?
“They” say to nap when the baby is napping.
This rich piece of advice is by far my favorite. Should I clean when my baby cleans? Cook when my baby cooks? Do laundry when the baby is up to its ears in stained and crusty onesies? And what if the baby simply won’t nap? Hey “they”, are we allowed to nap while the baby is awake?
What happens when you nap when the baby naps, but then everyone goes hungry and dirty because you have no time to do the chores you could have done while you were taking that much needed nap? It’s a beautiful thought, really, it is. But it’s not very realistic.
The clock stops for no man, woman, or child. Time continues on without prejudice and unfortunately, it is frowned upon to starve your family and run errands naked.
Ideal Parents say it’s not good to allow more than two hours of screen time a day.
Okay, I’m on board with this one, but can we all put our judgy-undergarments in a drawer? Sometimes my son gets thirty minutes a day of screen time, and other days, like today, he gets roughly five hours.
This isn’t something I’m proud of it, but I’m tired and I want a break. The idea that he should go entertain himself is not lost on me, but again, exhaustion has kicked in and sometimes I’m just not up for the fight.
In an ideal world as an ideal parent, sure they might not get a ton of screen time.
Make no mistake, I see the effects of too much screen time on my son. I see the heavy eyes and experience the wildness it creates. I’m well aware of what’s happening while it’s happening, but I’m not above choosing minimal relief over fighting. Mark my words, this kind of shenanigans doesn’t happen all the time, so please Monica, get off your high horse.
Look, everyone has their own way of riding this roller-coaster. Things are never going to be simple. What works for one family – or even one kid, for that matter – doesn’t work for all. I know I’m guilty of beating myself up trying to fit into this unrealistic mold of the “ideal parent”, and I’m sure some of you out there are too.
Your gut and your intuition are your best friends and who you should be listening to. Never mind what “they” say or how “they” feel about your or the fact that you gave your kid a tablet and a chocolate milk in the supermarket to avoid further meltdowns.
No one knows your life, just like you don’t know anyone else’s.
I’m sure “they” mean well, but unless you’ve been in my shoes, kindly step off my porch.
You gotta Mom that way that works for you. That’s my expert-mom-of-2 opinion.