I’d like to think that after a few years of marriage and a few kids that I would be perfectly at peace with my parenting choices. After all, by this time, I’ve realized my own limitations, weaknesses, and struggles as a mother and I am well aware that every kid is completely different, so what is the point of ever comparing my version of parenting without anyone else’s?
Except when I’m around any other mother, I always fall back in to the safe zone of doing exactly that — and it’s never an easy task to avoid feeling like I have to justify my choices as a parent. Because let’s face it — whether we like or not, we are judged on our own abilities as mothers.
For example, it hit me the other day that in the course of even a few minutes of conversation I had explained myself on the following aspects of my parenting:
- When I grocery shop
- How much I hold my kids
- How much back talk is acceptable to parents
- My (lack of) cooking skills
- My coffee addiction
I’m sure the fact that I even feel the need to justify any part of my parenting betrays my deepest, darkest insecurities, but let’s also be honest — what parent honestly feels like they know what they are doing? The very existence of any type of “Mommy Wars” — and if you don’t think they exist, I encourage you to peruse the comments section of any article that touches upon the following subjects: 1) breastfeeding 2) formula feeding 3) vaccines 4) circumcision or 5) working or staying home — shows that so many moms struggle with the need to justify the choices they have made as “the best.”
And in some sort of twisted attempt to justify why I even feel the need to justify my parenting choices that I know I shouldn’t have to justify but somehow still end up justifying, I present to you this list of ridiculous things that I have, on occasion, actually justified about my parenting to at least one other member of the human race.
1) My children’s bedtime
Parents seem to have strong opinions on children’s bedtimes and for good reason, I suppose — it’s an important time of day (night?). But still, sometimes, it feels a bit silly with the roundabout explanation I feel compelled to give people about our later dinner and resulting later bedtimes. (See what I did there?)
2) The type of cereal I buy
Do you ever speed through the cereal aisle and casually drop the sugared cereal into the cart like it was an accident and then kind of cover it up with some healthy bran flakes — oh wait, except those have gluten so are those even healthy any more? I try so, so hard to only buy healthy foods for my kids, but some mornings, I just want them to eat something without a fight.
3) The fact that sometimes my kids eat fast food
Oh my gosh, do I dare even admit that I buy my children McDonald’s every now and then and — gasp — even go for the evil plastic toy in the Happy Meal?
4) My hatred of the breast pump
Actually, on second thought, I don’t feel the need to justify that. I am just lazy. But I do feel like people think I’m a bit crazy for having a hard time getting my baby to take a bottle. Breast is best unless that’s all your baby wants, then you’re just a weirdo.
5) Our stance on Elf on the Shelf
I mean, really, can we just let the commotion on this one die already? NO.ONE.CARES. Have an Elf on your shelf or don’t, but let’s stop making such a big deal about it mmmmk?
6) Any and all education choices
Kids go to private school? Well, aren’t you just Mr. & Mrs. Moneybags? I do believe your snobbery is showing. Public school? Well, that’s just very following-the-crowd-of-you, isn’t it? Don’t you know they don’t individualize anything? Homeschool? Anti-social much? Why are you teaching your kids that the world should cater to them? Seriously, educational choices exhaust me and I’m only 2 out of 4 in deep right now.
7) Chores or no chores
Let’s all start with a long-winded, “Well, when I was a kid … ” because that’s how this conversation always goes. But it all comes back to our childhoods in the end one way or another, doesn’t it?
8) Our sleeping arrangements
Haven’t we all been there? If we happen to let it slip that one of our babies has preferred sleeping on their bellies, don’t we feel the need to explain ourselves with the fact that we really tried everything to get them to stop? Or if we’re co-sleepers, that we’re well aware of the studies, but gosh darnit, sometimes we just want to sleep a little at night.
9) My reproductive choices
Oh, sure, you may support reproductive freedom in theory for women, but I can almost guarantee you that that support goes out the window if you happen to be the type of woman who decides to have more than two children. Then, you will be assaulted by seemingly every person in the world who wants to know exactly why 1) you’re out to single-handedly ruin the world by overpopulating it 2) if you’re competing with the Duggars 3) exactly what kind of contraception you use 4) why you’re so insane. Suddenly, the status of your womb’s occupancy is completely up for debate. Will be there be a vacancy in the next nine months, folks?
10) Our kid’s atrocious behavior
I’ll end with a classic on this one. Kid acting out in public/at a party/anywhere other people may see him? Let me guess — he must be tired, amIright? #beenthere
I think what it comes down to is that most of us as parents are genuinely curious about how other parents spend their days and nights caring for the younger generation. We wonder if we are normal, if other parents struggle with the same things we do, if anyone else also feels some guilt over their shortcomings and failures as parents, so comparing and contrasting and even insisting that the way we parent is the right way because it seems to work for us, is also pretty understandable — we may just want to pass on a hard-earned nugget of knowledge to the next poor and unsuspecting parent who is about to get gob smacked in the face with the parenthood stick.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I am completely justified in writing this list.
I mean — you think so too, right?
Image via Chaunie Brusie/j&j brusie photographyMore On