Did you know there is more than one way to successfully raise a child? AND did you know that “success” is actually a subjective term usually defined by those raising said child?
Yes, it is true. You are actually free to raise your children how you see fit. Believe it or not, they’re yours to mold and influence; they’re yours to impact and as such, it’s important for you to know that we – the parental community – trust you to do the best by them. Period. Did you think I was going to say we trust you to do the best by them until proven guilty? Because, I know, that’s kind of how it feels these days but that’s not how it works. Turns out, ‘guilty’ is also a subjective term usually defined by the parental peanut gallery, CHOCK full of people with too much time on their hands and too many judgements on their mind.
Your priorities are yours and they’re important. Your parenting goals are yours and only yours. I mean, unless you are literally – as my dad would say – shit for brains (which I know you’re not) and don’t know the difference between right and wrong (which I know you do), your children are yours and I trust you to raise them how you see fit. I trust you. I know how heavy the responsibility of caring for and raising an innocent, adorable, sweet human who deserves the world can feel. I know how much work it is. I know how high the highs can be and how low the lows can get. Mountains and valleys, am I right? And I trust you’re doing everything you can.
Now, for those of you in the peanut gallery, standing high upon your inflated egos, drunk on your weird-ass kool aid with your free hands and all of your free time, maybe you don’t want to be the bad guy. Who does?! Or maybe you don’t realize you’re even doing it. We’ve all been there! Or maybe – just maybe – you know exactly what you’re doing. Whatever the case, here are a few insights I’m hoping will help you see things a little differently.
- It is possible that what worked for you, really did JUST work for you. I know, I’m blowing everyone’s minds right now. The thing about being different people is that when we procreate with another human who is different than all other humans, we create a NEW human who is also different from every other human. And the thing about that combination of unique humans is that their problems, albeit maybe common, are going to look and feel completely different to them than they will to you. And their solutions will – wait for it – be different than yours. And it’s not because they’re dumber than you or less experienced than you (even though we might be) it’s because they know themselves and their situation better than anyone else. By all means, offer your advice if you care to help (‘care’ being the key word) but make sure it comes off as advice and make sure your intent is to be helpful. Remember, this journey didn’t come with a flowchart or a road map – we’re all winging it.
- Your feelings are your feelings and your feelings alone. Listen, if you are somehow beyond your years or if you’ve raised kids who are now raising their own babies and the passing of time doesn’t affect you, that’s great. It’s magical, in fact. But you know what’s not so great or magical? Acting as though some of us younger moms who are still coping with the idea of our babies growing up, who are wishing they had a couple more days here and there with their little ones, are irrational and out of touch. If I wish I had more memories and I feel guilty that I don’t, the last thing I need is someone preaching about borrowed fucking time. Really, is it too much for me to want more time with the little humans who have permanently changed my life?? Who I know in my heart of hearts will someday not need me, or possibly even want me, around? Does that make a lunatic? I mean, of course time is a real thing and human growth is unstoppable but let me long for the unreasonable, if just for a moment. Let me be a new mom, scared of the future and so content with the present. Take a moment to think about your first years as a mom, take a moment to revisit what it felt like to wish a day would end and simultaneously nurse an aching heart because somehow another year has passed. Your feelings are yours and only yours. If we respect that, can you respect ours?
- We are not your enemy. Parents who share their experiences, their stories, their photos and their worries are not your enemy. We’re your peers and our reasons for sharing vary. Sometimes we share because we NEED to know someone can relate, we NEED someone to tell us we’re okay. Sometimes we share because we know it will put a smile on someone else’s face and we know what it feels like to NEED that. Sometimes we simply share because we’re proud parents – proud of our kids and proud of ourselves. I once wrote about the terror that was taking my two-year old to get his haircut because I knew other parents would be able to relate and I wanted to hear those stories, too. I also knew they’d laugh hysterically; who doesn’t want to make someone laugh? And I can’t lie, I was proud I survived an incident that could have easily been mistaken for an actual exorcism. We write and share for a lot of reasons but never to have our decisions berated or belittled by a person we’ve never met. Of course that’s the risk we run but maybe it’s also an indication of our faith in humanity. If what we’re sharing has no meaning or value to you, cool, but you can just move on – we don’t need to know. Sometimes saying less really is more.
In 2018, let’s close the peanut gallery on parenting and open, like, a decent-parent VIP membership program where we give virtual hugs and uplifting nudges. I mean, doesn’t it already feel better just thinking about it?!