Embracing the Sub-Par Parent in You
Remember the good old days? The ones in which you would beg Mom to buy you some Fabulous in Fuchsia lipstick and she’d say “you are way too young to be wearing makeup!” So you’d try to appeal to her rational side by giving the air-tight argument “But Jenny’s mom lets her wear makeup.” Mom would squash your Seventeen cover-girl dreams as she announced “I’m not Jenny’s mother.” And so the metal cylinder of colored wax would remain in the glass counter of Filene’s cosmetic department. Your attempt to persuade her by calling into question her performance as mother with the suggestion that she might be falling short to another mom in her sphere, had failed. Mom wasn’t Jenny’s mom. But more importantly, Mom had no desire to be Jenny’s mom. She had never met Jenny’s mom, knew nothing about Jenny’s mom, and therefore felt no need whatsoever to compete with Jenny’s mom. (And to be fair, you were too young to be wearing makeup.) Ah the good old days. When parenting was personal. When you didn’t know if the mom down the street was leaving you in the dust of the child-rearing race. When you didn’t even know there was a race!
Unfortunately, we parents in the 20-teens (really, what exactly ARE we calling this decade?) have forsaken that luxury of ignorance, trading it in for the scrutinizing eye of social media. In 2018, we are under far more pressure than our parents were to be perfect. Being under the constant microscope of Facebook and Instagram, we have brainwashed ourselves into believing that perfect parents actually exist, and even worse, that we are supposed to be one of them! Pinterest has driven us to strive to make the perfect dinner, prepare the perfect snacks, and host the perfect 3-year old’s birthday party. (Seriously, I think Pinterest is a parent’s worst enemy. If you have an account, delete it right now! I’ll wait….) Luckily for me, I have never bought into any of that nonsense. I’m not “that” mom. And I feel no need to be “that” mom. I realized when I got pregnant with my first child that, much like Homecoming Queen was back in high school, the title of Perfect Parent was one I was never going to even be on the preliminary ballot for. And therefore it’s never been a goal I have felt compelled to shoot for.
If you are a parent who prepares gourmet meals every night, complete with at least one item from the five essential food groups; who has never bought a can of Spaghettios; who bakes ooey, gooey, chocolate-chip cookies from scratch for the school bake-sale; who throws birthday parties where all your guests dress up like characters from Sofia the First and take home real amulets as parting gifts; who carves your child’s sandwiches into outlines appropriate for whatever major or minor holiday is coming up next; basically, if you’re my sister…..this blog is NOT for you!
No, this blog is for the rest of us. The ones who forget to make our kids’ wear coats when it’s 40 degrees outside. The ones who have no clue what GMO is, much less have even a shred of concern that there might be too much of it in our kids’ lunches. The ones who sometimes let our children watch TV.
I am not “that” mom. Not even close. I am the proud mother of an amazingly talented and beautiful 4 year old girl and the most handsome baby boy just born last November. And most days I consider my mothering a success if I have gotten everyone out of the house only 30 minutes late and having verified that everyone is, in fact, wearing shoes. (You laugh, but one time I got into my car and drove a good 10 miles before realizing I was still wearing my slippers.) There are days my daughter eats a Pop Tart for breakfast in her carseat on the way to school. Sometimes my son wears the same sleeper from the night before all through the next day. And many nights I slave under a hot microwave, preparing a series of frozen dinners made with lots of love, because it somehow got to be 7:30 already and I have forgotten that I don’t know how to cook.
But it’s ok. I don’t shame myself for failing to come even remotely close to the lowest rung on the A+ Mommy Totem Pole. Because back when my husband and I were pre-conceiving the idea of one day being ready think about having a child, my friend Dave, who shall remain nameless, shared with us some sage advice. He said we would most certainly have days when we felt we were failing miserably as parents. And when those days inevitably came, we should think of the worst parents we knew and pat ourselves on the back for doing better than them! So thanks to a steady stream of Dance Moms, my cup of parental pride runneth over.
And now, I want to extend some of that pride onto other imperfect parents. So I’m sharing my confessions of parenting fails here on this blog so that you too can pat yourself on the back for doing better than me! You’re welcome.
Hello. My name is Emily Steele. And I am not “that” mom!