I’m late to the party, as usual, but would still like to wish everyone out there who qualifies, a Happy (belated) Mother’s Day. All the moms, grandmas, aunties, friends, foster moms, step moms, teachers, and anyone who has a maternal influence over our children. Every small moment counts. Every reassuring word and kind gesture, and even discipline, counts towards helping our children reach their full potential. Sometimes the simple things are the most significant.
In today’s world of online groups, expert blogs, parenting magazines, Paternal Expert Facebook Warriors, and the abyss that is perfection via Pinterest and Instagram, I actually feel bad for the moms with young children. The quest for ‘mom goals’ and ‘life goals’ hashtagged to be subtle, but still screams ‘wanting perfection’, is glaringly obvious and constantly being chased, and no one can even do it in privacy anymore. Just scroll through Instagram and you see these bohemian Moms with their blonde, tanned, long-haired children running carefree on the beach, near their perfect little boho bungalow that is full of fresh plants, home-baked, gluten-free, paleo cookies, and not a speck of dust or dog hair to be seen. Read the comments, that range from ‘My Life Goals’ and ‘I hope my kids look like that when I have them!’ to ‘put some sunscreen on that boy. Cut his hair!’ and it is apparent that judgment and expectations are higher than ever when it comes to the world of Mommy n’ Me.
My youngest is almost 15, and it feels like a different era (hell, a different planet!) when I recall his toddler years. I hate to sound like a middle-aged cliché, but times really were different ‘back then’. Sure, we had internet and parenting magazines, and Mommy & Me playgroups, but we also had big backyards and trampolines without nets; cookies made with flour and real chocolate chips; time-outs and spankings, and free-range play, where the kids could ACTUALLY play, whether with a friend or by themselves, without a parent having to construct or schedule it. They even gobbled down granola bars with peanuts in them! Oh, the audacity of my early parenting years.
If this seems so bizarre, imagine what our parents are thinking!? When we were little we had childhoods without helmets, car seats, and sunscreen, and we ate foods rich in red food colouring and high fructose content! To top it off, we spent a lot of our time unsupervised. Outside! Without cell phones and Ipads. Can you even entertain the thought? I am sure many new moms shudder at it.
I am not writing this post to poke fun of new moms or to reminisce about the good ole days of parenting without Pinterest; I am, however, concerned for all the new parents out there, trying to get through each day without feeling like a failure (no matter the era, we all had this feeling), while juggling the perfect career, house, marriage, wardrobe, dinner menu, and of course, the perfect children. I see so much emphasis on what moms should or should not do, with their child’s school, food, vitamins, mental state, birthday parties, and so on….it seems like it is a constant uphill battle to raise perfect human beings according to the new study going viral on the web or the latest article in Today’s Parent.
I wouldn’t want to raise my kids again in this new era. I applaud all the moms and dads out there, trying to get it right, loving their kids even if they yell at them or let them eat KD for dinner because they forgot about the other kid’s ballet recital and they have a paper due at work the next day. I am in awe of the parents out there, commuting to work, working nights or weekends, paying thousands in daycare just to have daycare, never mind knowing if it even cracked the top 100 of “The Pretentious Harvard Daycares” list; those parents who still manage to pull off near-perfect birthday parties complete with healthy snacks and homemade goody bags, while cooking dinner once or twice a week that may or may not include real vegetables; and those parents who worry about buying a home with a yard for those kids to play in, and their college educations that will probably cost about six million dollars per kid, per degree. I salute the parents out there who have to read countless Facebook horror stories, complete with pictures, depicting children with tick bites or strange rashes that caused death; the news that tells them each time they attempt to make wholesome food for their children, the food turns out to be ‘toxic’; the magazines they read that give them lists of how to be a perfect parent and raise the next Prime Minister all while showing them all the ways they are doing it wrong. I praise the moms who scroll Instagram only to see perfect size 2 moms in their white bikinis with their tanned toddlers and still take their own (untanned) kids to the beach while donning their non-white gym shorts and baggy t-shirts. I do not think I could do it. Every single day.
It’s a perfect world out there and all of you moms and dads and step parents, keep on rocking your imperfect world, just like those of us who raised sometimes perfect little assholes before you. We may not have had Pinterest, but we did have alcohol. And sometimes, each other.
So raise a glass (or bottle, realistically) to all those flogging Mom duty. Raise one for yourself! Not just on Mother’s Day, but everyday. And do it with other moms. It’s a tough job, a dirty job, an important job. Don’t try going at it alone. It takes a village to raise a child. Preferably a tropical one. Cheers!