B.S in Parenting
By Lindsey Dianna –
“Nobody is doing ANYTHING with ANYONE’S BUTT, ever again! I don’t have time for this, I’m writing an article on parenting so, for the love of God, just put on some underpants!” I yell to my six and three year old children. I’m eight months pregnant with #3 and clearly still trying to master this juggling act.
Years of experience as a social worker, cocktail waitress, and bartender serving as my own bouncer couldn’t prepare me for the down and dirty reality that is parenthood. My kids have BIG questions, and lots of them. I’m not talking softballs here, but major practical and ethical quandaries. The answers I give will be etched into their vocabularies forever, and broadcast to all the world.
I feel like Dr. Phil (even if I sound more like Sam Kinison) only with no cue cards to guide me. This does not suggest that my days are filled with intellectual stimulation or intense philosophical discussion panels. The truth is, I am more likely to be interrupted from a potentially deep thought by the distraction of hearing: “Hey, it’s a penis and vagina party!” or “I found some money in the potty, but don’t worry—I rescued it!”
I grew up in a household where the answer to every question was “Look it up”. And I still do. As my current J.O.B. is S.A.H.M. (Stay At Home Mom), I read books and articles on parenting—because I want to be good at what I do.
If only parenting and life could be learned from books—riiiiight. What I have found is a dizzying array of contradicting messages, all of which tell us that we’re “doing it wrong”. Someone somewhere has it all figured out, and it sure as heck isn’t me.
Tiger Mom Amy Chua thinks American children lack discipline, and that parents should demand success, refraining from praise and coddling. Attachment parenting proponents tell us that without this praise and constant availability we are setting our kids up for a lifetime of insecurity and debauchery. Step over into “over-parenting”, and you become a Helicopter Parent—those seen as hovering over their children, their poor teachers and coaches. Champions of French-style parenting like Debra Ollivier say just stop paying so much attention to them in the first place and they won’t grow up to be so damn needy.
We are torn, like the scraps of a kindergartener’s security blanket, as to which approach will be best. Which approach will make our lives easiest? Which will decrease both the chance of our child becoming a serial killer and the amount of money and time funneled into therapy to overcome our sinister ways?
The truth is that we want the impossible—to be laid back disciplinarians who are 150% committed to our children’s happiness while not ignoring our own. Pondering another way of living can be healthy, but beating ourselves up for not doing it “the right way” is self-inflicted torture.
Sure, the French mom’s kid might sit through a long lunch at a fancy restaurant without squirming, and Tiger Mom’s kid might be able to play Chopin while mine are just rockin’ out to Wilco or the Beatles. To each their own. This article never would have reached the page if I hadn’t done some French ignoring or Tiger-like threatening to behave.
I’m guessing my way through this parenting gig one ridiculous moment at a time. One second I’m giggling when they pretend that halved Oreos are “extra boobies”, the next I am explaining the importance of table manners. We are, all of us, learning together; yelling and crying, laughing and loving, watching and listening. Life is messy, and nobody’s perfect, which if perfectly fine with me.