Hey, you. Yeah, you on the other side of this screen, squinting your eyes to focus and grumbling about the ad that just popped up.
I’m talking to you.
Are you listening? I don’t speak many worthwhile words these days, unless QUIT HITTING YOUR SISTER! counts. But this? It’s important, so pay attention.
You know all those parenting articles that are constantly up in our face telling us to stop yelling at our kids, enjoy evvvvvvery moment, organize the playroom with adorable yet functional bins and baskets, and eat only organic foods? They are killing us. Slowly but surely, those articles are sucking the last breath from our lungs, the last hope from our hearts, squashing us like flies under a swatter. So why do we keep reading them? And why do fellow parents keep writing them?!
Since when isn’t it enough to try our best and simply love our kids? Why is it suddenly a bad thing to raise our voices? To say no? To celebrate a birthday without a custom-made cake? Stop the madness, parents! And to whomever keeps writing those Make This Summer the Best EVER articles, STFU. This summer will be fine without your tips to paint a Twister board on the lawn or to create an outdoor oasis for my kids and 56 of their closest friends. This summer may not be THE BEST EVER, but it won’t suck, and it’s not because of your homemade frozen yogurt popsicles with real bites of fruit!, it’s because schools are closed and pools are open. So simmer down with your 17 Ways to Have a Terrific Bonfire, and just let me throw a marshmallow on a stick for my kid, mmmkay?
I get it, I really do. We all just want to do right by our kids, and that’s why the articles are written. That’s why I’m a hypocrite and I read those articles, and then feel bad because I’m not doing enough. Or not doing it right. Not doing it just the way the experts say I should. Then the guilt sets in and I beat myself up for not getting down on the floor and playing with my kids for the recommended 30 minutes a day. I can’t believe I haven’t planted a garden yet–why would I let someone else control the amount of pesticides I feed to my children?! I can’t remember the last time I bought my daughter a new toy; she’s the third child and lives on hand-me-downs. She’s certain to become a serial killer and it’s all my cheap fault. And the boy’s birthday is coming up and I haven’t even chosen a theme or a color scheme for the party we’re not even having!
Whoa. Did I really just let a stranger make me feel bad about myself?
I want a real article in a real parenting magazine that affirms what Moms and Dads long before us have always known: it’s the time we spend with our kids that really matters. Someone publish that! But they won’t because there are no fancy party decorations, no professional photo shoots to capture the time we spend pushing our 4-year-old on the swing or the hot summer days dedicated to cheering on our 12-year-old at his game. Bouncing and walking and rocking a restless baby to sleep isn’t quite Pin-worthy, neither is sweating/crying your face off the day you move your daughter into her dorm room for the first time. Modern parenting would have us believe it’s not enough to just try our best and love our kids something fierce, and quite frankly, that’s bullshit.
Here’s some non-bullshit:
Stop wondering if you should be more of a helicopter parent because the articles say it means you’re better at loving your kids. Quit second guessing yourself: your fourth grader was going to come in third place in that essay contest regardless of whether or not you cut his sandwich into the shape of a panda bear.
You want some real parenting advice? Lower your expectations. Yell and, when necessary, apologize. Then yell again because KIDS. Lose your patience because you’re human. Cry with your children. Laugh until you have to run to the bathroom with your children. Call them out when they’re being a-holes, and hold yourself accountable when you’re an a-hole. Teach your kids how to be better; be honest and admit you’re trying to be better, too.
Here’s to all the non-bullshit parents out there: let’s lower the bar and be better together.
Sit! I'll come to you!