Every Parenting Blog Post I’ll Ever Write
Just in case I don’t get around to writing them all. You know, with all that free time I have right now. Since I don’t work.
Like it or not, we’re all in this together. Through sleepless nights and first steps and sending them off to daycare/school/college/adult life, we’re all in it together. But every family and parent and child is different and there is not one choice that’s right for all.
You know what it’s like. You understand the guilt of not meeting everyone’s needs, all the time. You know the quiet of the house while everyone is sleeping and you’re just finishing one last thing that no-one will notice anyway. You get that silent desperation as you discover vomit in your child’s bed — and hair, and pyjamas and how on earth did it get there?! — and mentally cross everything off your to-do list. And you know the simple joy that comes from hearing a child’s shriek of delight (as you sip your hot, un-microwaved beverage while having a biscuit for yourself and scrolling through Facebook. Ok, I can dream!)
So please, give yourselves and each other a break. Give respectful advice when it’s asked for, gracefully accept or refuse advice as appropriate, offer no-strings-attached help even when it’s not asked for, accept genuine help when it’s offered, learn how to install the car seat correctly, respect each other and embrace diversity in every decision from feeding to diapers to sleeping to working or not to transportation to schooling and everything in between.
We’re all doing the best we can given our own unique circumstances.
(By the way, we’re sorry for not getting back to you. We wrote the reply but then got distracted and forgot to hit “send”. We do care about you and desperately want to join you for that drink. Please, keep trying. One day we’ll have a babysitter, non-vomity children, no fires to fight and an ounce of energy. All at the same time.)
Whether you plan to be a parent some day or the thought of that makes your blood run cold, we’re all in this together.
Parents are truly, honestly doing the best they can.
Nobody likes a screaming child in the restaurant or plane or shopping mall — least of all that child’s parent. We’re trying in the best way we know how to simultaneously shut the kid up in the moment, teach them what’s acceptable in public, respect our own parenting approach and all the while appear to be strict enough but not too harsh and kind and gentle and respectful but not too permissive, in the varied eyes of every bystander in the immediate vicinity. And all this after many sleepless nights, or at the end of a frantic day, or with a million things left to do and think about it, or with a missed nap and forgotten snacks (to say nothing of the kid). And knowing that tomorrow we get to do it all again.
The thing is though, sometimes we need to be out in public. For practical reasons or our own sanity or because it’s just the way life works. The side effect of that is we end up with adults who (hopefully) know how to behave in public, instead of caged animals being unleashed into the wild for the first time.
So please, please, dont judge us. Give respectful advice if/when it’s asked for, offer no-strings-attached help even when it’s not asked for, and remember that if you ever do become a parent you will do every single thing you say you never will (YES, including posting on Facebook cute baby photos). And remember that the brat/little s$&@/rugrat/anklebiter/snowflake currently having a meltdown in aisle 4 or seat 18B may well be the person giving you a prostate exam or writing your tax refund check in a few short years. And perhaps once upon a time that was you.
We’re all doing the best we can given our own unique circumstances. Our circumstances currently include children, yours may be challenging in other ways. If you’ll just give us a little leeway for the extra burden we’re carrying — literally or figuratively — at this moment, we’ll do the same for you whenever and for whatever reason you need it. Deal?
To Society In General:
We’re all in this together. Our children are the future and despite every curve ball thrown our way, every roadblock put in our path, every door slammed shut in our faces, we’re doing our best to make the best future we possibly can.
We’re doing that in ways that were never imagined when evolution wired our brains and perfected our threat responses and instincts.
We’re doing this alone, or almost alone, with conflicting musts and shoulds and “don’t you even think of doing”s coming at us from every well-intentioned (or not) angle with every ulterior motive and not a village hut in sight.
It’s not meant to be like this. We’re meant to have family and community around and all pitch in with finding food and keeping fires burning and caring for children and the ill and the elderly. That’s what we humans are designed for. That’s what our babies — and our bodies — expect.
Yet we’re on our own, trying to raise good citizens while trying to make ends meet and keep the house respectable and stay sane. It’s tough and exhausting — even for those who do have good sleepers.
No-one can do it all but it often feels like we’re being expected to. On a unicycle. 20 feet in the air. With seagulls flying at our heads. Without a safety net.
You, Society, need to be that safety net. Whether it’s financial assistance, parental leave (hell, enough paid leave to recover physically would be a great start!), healthcare for our kids and ourselves, playgrounds and parks and open space, safe roads, decent safe schools, realistic and achievable guidelines and expectations and support to meet them, healthy food available and affordable. We all need a little support sometimes in order to be able to give our kids — our future, your future — the best of ourselves, before there’s nothing left to give.
We’re all doing the best we can given our own unique circumstances. You, Society, can — and must — help make those circumstances manageable. In return, you get educated, well-adjusted citizens ready to serve. Deal?
And now, since we’re all here anyway, let’s hold hands and sing together. Come on, you know the words!