With summer in full swing and a new school year creeping closer and closer—and especially with my maniacal desire to make my family look fabulous on social media (don’t we all?)—I feel the need to post some disclaimers about my parenting skills:
And I don’t care.
I love my kids. Oh my goodness, I love them so much it hurts. Sometimes they walk into a room and I can’t help but smile, no joke.
But there are SO. MANY. parenting trends I just can’t get into.
Some of them, like wearing smocked dresses, I’ve written about from a serious place in my heart.
And I meant what I said.
It is very hard not to fall victim to the You’re a Better Mother because You Do x,y, and z Disease.
We all have these ideas in our minds—whether it’s smocked dresses, organic foods, or not allowing our boys to pee on the tree in the front yard—that we believe make us a “good” parent or a “bad” parent.
So if the following examples are what constitute great parenting, I guess I will never be one:
1. The Sign
You know the sign I’m talking about. The sign that your kid holds when school starts, when they lose a tooth, when they have a birthday, or a piece of toast, or just generally walk into a room.
I will never make that sign. My kids will be lucky if I even snap a picture.
Listen, I love taking pics of my kids, obviously, seeing as how I’m not scared to post to social media.
Instagram, Facebook, my blog…I love for the world to see my gifts.
But a sign?
I mean, in theory, it’s a great idea.
But do I really need one more thing to feel bad for not doing?
I already feel horrible (not really) that I don’t buy new backpacks or lunch boxes every year. Sometimes my kids have even worn clothes from the year before—gasp!—on the first day of school.
Not only that, now I see moms listing a bunch of stats all over these signs!
Things like, Tommy’s Hobbies: Hitting Home runs, Reciting the Constitution, Positing a New Theory of Relativity.
Bear’s would most likely say: Lifting the Seat, Not Breaking Windows with a Baseball Bat, Sleeping in His Own Bed at Eight Years Old.
Can’t I just look back on these pictures thirty years from now and try to guess when they were taken?
It’s like a fun game to look forward to: Grab a
bottle glass of wine and figure out which kid is which, and in what house this was taken, and what year this is, and wait— is that even one of our kids?
Sorry, moms. The sign ain’t happening over here.
2. Matching Sister’s Outfits to Brother’s Uniform (or vice versa…or any matching at all…or any clothing at all…or even making my other kids attend their siblings’ games)
I’m actually guilty of this one, but only because Nims wants to dress like a boy, so naturally, when Bear puts on his baseball uniform, she wears his baseball t-shirts.
And I agree, the matching is cute, moms. Really cute.
But I barely have the energy to persuade her to wear a dress, so I certainly don’t have the energy to make sure she has a navy and orange bow and ruffle shorts to match her brother’s uni.
So if you see Nims at a ballgame and have no clue whether she’s rooting for Bear’s Giants or some random Iowa team (because that’s the t-shirt my mom sent in the batch of clearance goodies she got from the Des Moines Wal-mart), #sorrynotsorry.
3. Summer Camp
I want to like summer camp so badly, except I watched Meatballs when I was younger so I feel like Bill Murray let me in on some scandalous secrets of what really goes on.
Not only that, my children won’t even leave our house to go out to eat, so I seriously doubt they could stomach a week away.
I think camp is good for the soul; I really do. The outdoors, the sunshine, the trees, the camaraderie, and the smell of boys moldy undershorts and bug spray.
But I don’t feel obligated to send my kids. I don’t feel like they’re missing out on some great big experience.
We have enough ticks in our backyard to believe we’re camping in the woods, and half the time none of my kids actually sleep in their own beds anyway.
Also, we make lots of s’mores over here and Bear likes to light matches. So I feel like we’ve got the basics of camp covered.
4. Giant Birthday Parties
We’re kind of wishy washy on birthday parties. Sometimes we have them; sometimes we don’t.
I tend to go with how I’m feeling that year/month/week/day/hour.
I can tell you I don’t recall ever sending out an invitation for one; and if I have, I can assure you it came straight from a Microsoft Word program and an HP deskjet printer.
I think this particular not-gonna-do-it has more to do with my general anti-social behavior and less to do with not liking birthday parties.
One, the fun parties tend to be on the expensive side, and unless my kid is going to grovel in thankfulness for the next twenty or so years because we spent that kind of money, it ain’t happening.
Also, I don’t really like to clean up.
Or chat with other parents.
Or monitor other people’s kids.
Or monitor my own, for that matter.
5. Professional Family Pictures
We are FINALLY taking an actual professional picture this year.
It’s not that I haven’t wanted to; it’s just that I haven’t wanted to.
We’ve been a family a total of 15 years, and we’ve had maybe one professional picture of our entire family (which at that time was three of us), and that’s only if you consider a part-time photographer with a living room studio professional.
Setting the time is difficult. Picking a place to shoot is difficult. Choosing outfits is a nightmare. And pretending like my kids can sit still and act like they like each other is next to impossible.
And furthermore, all you moms who get professional pics taken five times a year, where in the heck do you hang these things?
I have about a quarter-inch of wall space in my house that is picture-worthy and doesn’t contain pencil drawings, toothpaste smears or holes from baseballs.
I can snap a pic on my iphone just fine, and if I’m feeling particularly good about myself, I’ll even print it out at Walgreens.
And if it makes it to a frame as opposed to sitting at my desk for three years, I feel like I should be given a parenting award.
I’m not saying the mother who chooses to follow these trends is doing so because they want to look good or follow the crowd.
I find it hard to believe that every mother is dying to remember to make a sign or begging to dole out benjis like crazy on birthday parties, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.
Maybe one day I’ll change my tune, and you’ll see me towing the line.
And it’s possible I follow trends that you would never buy into: travel ball for instance, or allowing my kids unlimited screen time. (I made that one up. It’s not a trend; I’m just lazy.)
However, my oldest is four years from graduation, so I highly doubt I’ll jump on any of these bandwagons. I feel like I would have gotten my act together by now if this were the case.
Still, I don’t begrudge all you moms who put a lot of stock into following parenting trends.
But please don’t think you’re a better mother because of it.
You probably stink at parenting just as much as I do.
And that’s okay. 😉