I have a comondrum (that’s obviously what a conundrum on Monday is called). Why do so many parents insist on acting as though they’re perfect and parenting is 100% cookies and cream when we all know it’s not? Why do they insist there is a parental hierarchy determined by whether you work or stay home (and work); whether you breastfeed or formula feed; whether you homeschool, choose private school or send your kids to public school; whether you stay together for the kids or decide to separate? What does it matter? If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 1,000 times – we’re all doing this thing with the same goal: To do the best by our kids with what we have without losing our minds.
This morning I was romping around Pinterest and went down a rabbit hole like I tend to do and, for a reason I can’t recall, I decided to search “ecard parent”. While I could relate to the majority of the posts, I was surprised by how many passive aggressive memes there were about stay-at-home parents – which is saying a lot because not much surprises me anymore. I’m not going to share any of them here because I don’t share their sentiments but it made me wonder, who cares? Ever since I’ve become a mom, I’ve always said I could never be a stay-at-home parent. I think about the expectations I had when we were searching for a child care center and I am self-aware enough to know I could never live with that pressure, to ensure my kids were learning the right things at the right pace in the right way. I mean, think about it – non-stop activities, lesson plans, curriculum. But that’s just how I see it – I know many parents disagree with the need for that sort of planning and scheduling for young kids. That’s okay. Honestly, the right answer is probably somewhere in the middle. Or maybe there is no right answer? I don’t know. But for any parent to assume they work harder than a stay-at-home parent because they send their kids to school all day and go do a different sort of work is, in my opinion, absurd. There are people taking care of those kids, doing exactly what those parents would be doing if they didn’t work outside the home (maybe more, maybe less) and getting paid for it. Compensation and salary isn’t a fool-proof way to gauge how hard somebody works or how valuable they are. And where you choose to work, in or out of the home, does not determine your parental value.
I could probably make a case for every scenario in which a decent parent is attacked by another decent parent for their choices. I have a hard enough time fulfilling my own parenting expectations that it’s hard for me to do much other than idolize the other parents I know – they all seem so much calmer than me, more patient than me, wiser, less neurotic, neater, less emotional, better equipped. I couldn’t imagine judging another parent’s choices as long as they’re children are healthy and safe. I mean, the schtick is up, parenting is really difficult – it’s also subjective – and yet here we are all in the same boat, some trying to just get by while others try to act as though they’re Isis, goddess of motherhood.
But the point isn’t how we’re doing it, it’s that we’re doing it. Despite wanting our experiences to be different we’re all humanly flawed and in a lot of ways our parenting experiences are very much the same. Going through my Pinterest search results reassured me of that. There were handfuls of reminders that it’s not just me who finds it challenging, that my kids aren’t any worse or any better than other kids, that my shortcomings don’t make me a worse parent than my neighbor and my parenting choices don’t put me in any sort of higher echelon within the parenting community. Tell me, where does that notion stem from? Aren’t we all trying to do the same thing?
Here are some of my favorites:
Because the color of your cup or your crayon or a closed kitchen is not the same as dying.
Oh. Only in our house? Hmmm…
Like make a bottle while driving.
“You ‘wake, Mama?”
I mean, the truth is the truth…?
Or 5pm but who’s watching the clock?
Every time Matty catches a glimpse of the toy section in Target. Every. Time.
I’m not sure I’ve ever related to anything more than this.
If I look away and pretend I didn’t see it, it’s not really a reflection of my parenting – right?
96% of of my life.
They’re lucky they’re cute, aren’t they?