Me, looking like I always do, all calm and meditative and whatnot.
There is jaw-dropping chutzpah involved in writing about parenting when my children are only half-baked (so to speak). Worse, I lack even the most basic formal training in human psychology or child development. I recognize that my audacity is astounding.
But here’s the thing: being a parent is hard.
Duh, right? This is where I’m supposed to follow up with platitudes about how “it’s so worth it” or at least a cute little “Is it wine o’clock?” meme with winky face emoji.
But I’m mean it’s hard, and no one really talks about that. Instead, we spend our days mucking around in the trenches of parenting while scrolling golden-hued Facebook posts about other families’ apple-picking trips and adorable craft projects.
No wonder we parents wander around in a haze of self-loathing and failure, thinking we’re the only parent who is at the end of our rope, paralyzed or overwhelmed or under-prepared or embarrassed or beaten down by the day-to-day drama and demands of shepherding little people into functional adulthood. But in almost every authentic conversation I’ve had with a fellow-parent, the mess is there: the ambivalence, the regret, the overwhelm. And when we commiserate — when we dazzle these worst-moments with light — something magic happens: we feel less alone. And because of that — in a freaky reversal of what you might expect — we become better parents and (just as important) happier people.
So I’m going to stand out here, metaphorically naked, and describe the time—bereft of ideas for handling my son’s pickiness—I physically forced him to eat a bite of sweet potato and, of course, he threw up all over the table, then spent three days watching me sideways, eyes welling with betrayal. Just so you know you’re not the only one.
I’ll share my real-life attempts to guide two wonderful/horrible (and therefore normal) children toward functional adulthood (in WOM IRL); some wisdom gleaned from observing the parenting tactics of a large group of friends, acquaintances, co-workers and utter strangers (in TOOLS); a deep curiosity about how we messy, beautiful humans work (in MUSINGS); and a bathtub full of sympathy for all of us trying to be good parents in the face of society’s crushingly unattainable expectations (in LETTERS).
A few warnings:
1. If you’re seeking a guru or The Answer, you’ll be disappointed. I’m not going to tell you to Ferberize your baby (or not), breastfeed (or not), enroll in private school (or not). My answer to all conundrums is, “It depends.” It depends on you. And your child. And what is required within the unique combination of personalities, priorities, life circumstances, emotional/physical/psychological/financial resources, time, support structures, etc. that you are faced with. As much as you might desperately want someone to tell you what is right and take the weight of decision-making off your aching shoulders, I can’t do that, my friend. I can share some tools, some ideas and some sympathy, but you’ll still have to put on your big-girl (or boy) panties and make your own decisions.
2. There is no space here for haters. No judgment. No shaming. I will shut that shit down. We are all trying our best with what the universe handed us, and no one needs any more shaming and self-righteousness and schadenfreude than already exists.
Other questions or comments? Message me here.