We're all 'bad parents'
Just because someone seems like the perfect parent doesn't mean they're not struggling.
Image via Really bad parents/YouTube
Someone commented to me the other day that, when they have a child, they’d like to be “just like me” as a mother. I laughed and wondered why, especially because I’d just left the room to grab a quiet moment after having a disagreement with my daughter.
Read more: Why are some parents so smug?
The humble brag
Made for this mothering
When my daughter was just an infant, a friend came over to visit and quipped that I was “made for this mothering”. At the time, in the throes of some serious life stuff, I felt utterly incapable and that she was, in all likelihood, just trying to be nice to me at a time when I really needed someone to be. I shrugged it off and went back to trying to fathom out bum cream vs baby powder.
The lie of social media
Why did someone want to be “just like me” as a mother? Me, who regularly pulls her hair out over mathematics homework, who sometimes mixes up the lunchboxes and who occasionally wishes she could escape to Bora Bora for a solo holiday? I figured it out though, and I know it’s my own doing. It’s Facebook. I’ll regularly share a story from my parenting journey, or quote my kid when she says something inexplicably cute.
But, that’s not the full story. We’re far more likely to focus on sharing something positive online, rather than telling our mates that we cried ourselves to sleep last night because the kids “just won’t listen”. And that’s why my friend wants to be like me – she only sees that side of my parenting – the one I let the world see online.
Independence is petrifying
As my daughter grows up; more and more frankly frightening stuff comes up every day. Now into her senior primary years, her independent streak is, well, it’s begging to streak away from me. In her pre-school years, I cherished that independent streak – the one that teachers said was “so refreshing” because they could easily give her a task and she’d get on with it. But now, the converse of that independent streak is showing up – where she becomes frustrated by my maternal need to guide her, and right now she is far more keen to draw her own map, thanks mom.
You endorsed it, now follow through
She’s learnt so much, I’ve endorsed that learning – heck, I provoked it – and now, she can disagree with me on certain things. That thin line of learning to disagree with me… it’s a line every child has to hop when they are learning who they’d like to be. Some of the biggest things I ever disagreed upon with my parents… are the very things upon which I now rest my life (and, were they here, they’d agree with me now on how important they have been for my personal development).
The scary stuff is not a failure
So I’ve committed myself to being more honest online. Even though I believe I have a good relationship with my daughter, it’s not that we live in this cutesy bubble of simplicity. Parenting isn’t like that and, as our babies grow up, it just gets difficult in different ways. The difficulties we face as parents are learning opportunities though, even when they mean we spent all night sweating through a bout of insomnia brought on by a disagreement. For the record, friends, I cried myself to sleep last night. I’m not the perfect parent, and I am okay with it.
How honest are you online about your parenting?