This post kind of goes along with a column I just wrote for the newspaper, but this part didn’t seem to fit the rest so I took it out and fleshed it out and now present it to you!
I’ve been thinking about unplugging, about hunkering down and ignoring everyone and everything that tries to tell me how to parent. Because I don’t seem to be winning at life as much as everyone else I look at is.
With parenting, with living, there are so many expectations that we place upon ourselves, that society places upon us. We have an extensive amount of information at our fingertips these days. We have the ability to see what everyone made for dinner last night, or to see that this person’s child is already writing sentences while mine, who is the same age, hasn’t quite mastered that yet. And so we look to ourselves and start feeling like maybe there is something wrong with us. Maybe we haven’t worked as hard on letter and number writing as the parents on that website. Maybe our dinner wasn’t nearly as full of whole grain and vegetables as that other family’s was. And so we feel inadequate. We feel like we haven’t mastered this parenting thing because everyone else seems to have already.
I think mothers feel this more than anyone else. It’s like, no matter what we do it’s not going to be enough. And sometimes it feels like many of the parenting decisions I make are out of guilt over what everyone else is doing. I cloth diaper, but I also use disposables. I made baby food when my kids were little but I also used store-bought. I make a lot of homemade, from scratch food, but sometimes we eat fast food. I try to always be calm and in control but I lose my temper and sometimes I feel like maybe my 4 year old has a better grasp of how to react in certain situations than I do. And most of the time I’m grateful I don’t have other people around to see how I am as a parent because I don’t want to be judged and found lacking.
But no matter what we do we are judged.
Was it always like this? It seems that we can’t just parent without having experts telling us we’re doing everything wrong and our children will grow up to be awful, horrible people. I admit that I love the internet. But sometimes I just want to follow my husband to his dream cabin in the middle of nowhere Alaska and unplug. I want to spend my days parenting without the added ‘help’ of technology or experts or other people who judge my use of cereal that contains high fructose corn syrup.
And so looking at other people, neighbors, friends, bloggers, Pinteresters, I feel like we’re all trying to present ourselves as in control and with it and being the best that we can be in all areas of our lives.
That’s not true, is it? Are we all just as frazzled and at a loss but refusing to admit it because of how we’ll look?
Someone please tell me that they also don’t know what the hell they’re doing so I’ll feel better.