First of all, can I just say that I find it hil-AR-ious that you clicked on a Parenting article from yours truly. Laugh laugh laugh snort! Let’s just put it all out there and say I am probably not the yardstick by which motherhood should be measured, but on most days I get the job done. Take today, for example: both of my kids and I made it out of the house, dressed in clean clothes, fed, on time (-ish) with the dog walked, lunch packed and smiling. Well, at least I was smiling. Thing One might have been chanting “give me the pack of gum” in his ‘angry’ voice and Thing Two may have been practicing vocals in Mariah Carey-esque registers. And although I left my lunch on the counter, I am absolutely positive it would have been a delectable treat come lunch time.
Okay, so the outfits…yeah… In our defense, they were clean and we weren’t naked. Who cares that the three year old wants to dress himself and looks like a soup sandwich most of the time and I had VPLs (visible panty lines) that could be seen from the Hubble?! At least I had done enough laundry that the baby left the house with two socks on her feet—where the left sock ran off to on our two block car ride to school is anyone guess. And I really would have looked for it, but I am a little scared of what lies beneath the protective top layer of glitter-shedding art projects blanketing the floor mats.
Anyways, the point of my pointless, yet amusing, Tale of How We Got Out of the House Today illustrates that no matter how hard I try–packing lunch the night before, laying out outfits, practicing dry runs of loading the baby in the car while pretending to chase a pre-schooler down the street in heels—my mornings will never go perfectly. Ditto for anything else I planned for in parenthood.
A few days ago I was sitting in my cube being industriously busy (see work people, I get sh*t done! And, btw, if this post appears during work hours I totally scheduled it ahead of time), when a frazzled coworker trudged tiredly by while lamenting about another sleepless night with the baby. Let me interject here for a moment–even while mumbling she was tired, hadn’t slept in months and was horrible at parenting, she is the mom that lost the baby weight ten seconds after giving birth and always looks lovely and put together at work and I am pretty sure her house is clean. (Hats off to you, my friend—I’m still trying to lose the Freshman Fifteen I put on in middle school) Anyways, this Totally Got Her Sh*t Together Mom was stressed to the point of tears that she failed to sleep train her wee one. “She doesn’t sleep. EVER! I can’t get her to sleep! Why won’t she just sleep? This is all my fault!! Everyone else kids sleep through the night by three months. I can’t fix it!!” It was awful.
First of all, if your baby doesn’t sleep, they aren’t broken, they are just being little untrained a-holes. Not intentionally, but I am pretty sure if a grown person pitched a fit keeping the whole house up all night, someone would lodge a complaint. With their fist. In someone’s face. Second, she is without a doubt an amazing mom, 200% dedicated to her kid and yet she was totally laying the smack-down on herself, claiming she was the Worst Mother Ever because she couldn’t check the “sleeps by three months” box on the baby To Do list.
My dear co-worker (N, you know who you are), as the current reigning Worst Mom Ever, ease up on yourself girlfriend! And please! You don’t get to steal my title for four piddley months of baby not sleeping. Call me when she hits three and a half years of being a nocturnal beast. Instead of beating yourself up, think about it: if everyone’s little angels slept through the night at three month, an entire cottage industry of sleep books, doulas, lullaby CDs and homeopathic aids would not exist. Those parents of the magical sleeping children are lying out their tired, purple bagged eye balls.
Additionally I also tried to tell her that none of us will EVER complete that idiotic Baby Milestone Checklist that certain websites-that-will-remain-nameless email out daily. In fact, most parents experience those I’m Crappiest Parent Ever moments all the time; some of us even have whole days, nee weeks, we feel this way! Really! I promise! Every single (good) parent I have come across has felt like this. And those that say they have it all together are a pack of sneaky lying posers that take their self-image way too seriously.
Every day I shake my head with pity that my adorable little rug rats are stuck with a slightly-off center mom that has let dust sheep gather in every corner of the house (those bastards are way too big to be classified as bunnies) and does Sunday night’s dishes on Tuesday…okay, Thursday. I also image I will be the mom, that in some wayward attempt to be that cool, hip parent—hip like you, my aforementioned friend—and will most likely spend years 5-17 embarrassing the stuffing out of them on a weekly basis. Just so you know I am totally plan on being That Mom in the after-school pick up line. We are talking cowboy boots, unitards, feather boas, fanny packs, maybe even a gold visor or two. Why? Because nobody invites That Mom to join the PTA. Anyway, I digress…
Here is my Parenting 101 advice, for those of you trying desperately to be the Most Perfect Parent Ever: there is no real Parenting 101 advice out there. No matter what you do, there are ten other books/blogs/articles/Facebook douchetards telling you that you are doing it all wrong. And, let me assure you, you are not. Everything that you do, at least for those mom’s I know, you are doing it because you love your spawn (or really really detest the idea of endlessly dull PTA meetings discussing the deplorable state of school water fountains). It’s time we all ease up on ourselves, set the bar a little lower and take a collective deep breath. Our kids will not be sleeping through the night at four months, or maybe even four years. Not every decision we make will be perfect or turn out the way we hoped, but by golly, if we don’t mess up a few times, then what will they talk to their therapist about?!
So breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth, and repeat my mantra “Walking, talking, potty trained by Kindergarten”. Because, what else do you really need to teach your kid by then? Really, they have their whole adolescence to learn all those “life lessons” from the overacting little turds on the Disney Channel.