My children are lucky.
They’re growing up with a village of people surrounding them. Someone who loves them very deeply is pretty much always accessible and available.
My 60-something-year-old mom gets up early most mornings and drives over to our house to take the girls to school. My husband rushes home from work at the end of the day in order to pick them up. I find creative ways to be available on PD Days, when they’re home sick, when they have appointments to go to. I work at night after they’ve gone to bed instead of during the day so I can volunteer in their kindergarten classes.
They are lucky. And as a result, they don’t require before and after school care—someone is always there to drop them off and pick them up.
The other morning my oldest daughter looked at me with big, hopeful eyes and said, ‘Why don’t I get to go to before and after school care, Mommy? Can I go? Please??’
‘Well, you don’t go because Mommy and Daddy are able to drop you off and pick you up.’ I explained.
‘Not fair.’ she huffed.
And then I realized something.
You literally cannot win in the parenting game.
As parents, we all spend countless hours worrying and feeling guilt. There’s always something to feel bad about and some study or ‘expert’ is always telling us we’re doing our job wrong. Here I was thinking that if I worked longer hours or had a less flexible schedule, I may feel guilty about not being around after school. Meanwhile, my kid feels like she’s missing out. There’s no winning.
And while we’re just trying to do our best and raise our kids to be happy, independent, successful little beings, we are also being told that we’re failing to follow all the rules. Sleep. Playtime. Screen time. Sugar. Breastfeeding. Bottle feeding. Organic foods. How you interact with your kids. What sunblock you apply to their skin. What products you use to clean your house. Is everything in your home plant-based? Are you ensuring they learn another language? A musical instrument. Sign language. How soon do they walk and talk? Picky eating.
It. Is. Endless.
And I’ve realized that I literally cannot win. I will always make a wrong choice according to someone. And if I’m not making the wrong choice in parenting, I’m failing to keep my house clean, get the weight off, create perfect beachy waves in my hair and always put my husband first.
So I’m sort of giving up. Instead, I want to know… can we all just get along? Can we each do what makes us happy and what we feel is right? As long as we’re not being irresponsible, can we just do what we can and really and truly support each other?
Can we stop trying to win?
We need to stop chastising one another with the articles that insist we stop doing X or start doing it better. I see real value in knowledge. And I love all the articles that offer up helpful info. But I think the messaging needs to be kinder.
Let’s give each other a break. And let’s really mean it. Like, really mean it.
Because if we’re going to say things like ‘We support you!’ and then turn around and tell each other that you’re failing your kids by not making them do all the chores or by not forcing them to eat what you eat—then we’re not really putting our money where our mouths are.
So I’m pouring myself a glass of wine tonight and truly vowing to salute and support you, parents.
To the moms who consider themselves hot messes. To the parents who are on top of their games today. To all of you who feed the kids pizza more times than you’d like to admit. Or let your kids watch endless unboxing videos on YouTube. I’ve been there. To any parent who has ever said ‘I give up!’ while struggling to get their tantruming kids buckled into a car seat. But also to the parents who have clean houses and children. You are also awesome. I vow not to give you side eye just because my kids are filthy today—as long as you vow not to judge me.
There is no winning in this hunger games-esque reality known as parenting. So let’s all form an alliance already. Let’s say ‘screw you’ to negativity and trolls and judging.
I’m so ready to feel the love—no matter how I decide to parent. Because we’re all just doing our best.