It is far too soon for me to be waxing rhapsodic about a successful parenting journey. My children are still young(ish). I don’t like to consider myself a wild success, or break my arm patting myself on the back quite yet.
Still, as kids go I think ours are turning out all right. Sure, they can’t hang up a towel to save their lives and the way the shiny boxes that live in our laundry work remain a mystery, but they’re good kids. I like them just fine.
What I do know is that there is a trend among “Mommy Bloggers” and the media in general to portray parenthood as “the hardest job you’ll ever have.”
Hardest? Really? Isn’t that a bit much? I’ve not gone to war, mined coal or even pumped out a middling sized septic tank but I bet such tasks are pretty grueling.
Challenging? Absolutely. Exhausting? You bet. Still, I find it difficult to digest that parenting is the hardest job I’ve personally ever had. The most important, certainly, but I’ve definitely had less pleasant work environments. In parenting I laugh a lot and the company is infinitely better.
Clearly, I must be doing it wrong. I probably am. I’ve long admitted I’m a slacker mom.
I believed in schedules, but only inasmuch as they make your life run more smoothly, not run it altogether. Sometimes we eat three square meals a day and some days we have pizza. Sometimes we have bath, book and bed and sometimes we have no bath at all.
A late day swim is just a cool, refreshing bath right?
My point wasn’t that we are sometimes less scrubbed than we could be and clearly miss a major food group here and there, but that we roll with the punches and try to go with the flow.
I have a sort of light-hearted hippie parenting meets how-to book thing going on. A safe and solid foundation, of course, but don’t take the small stuff too seriously. I believe that “good enough” is sometimes just fine. For us, it works.
I think I’m a fun mom. I believe in reading and regular adventures. When my children were very small we practically lived at the library and tromped through parks, museums and quirky corners of our world.
Nonetheless, I failed Perfect Parenting 101 in one crucial course: you wouldn’t have to count very high to hit the maximum number of times I crawled around on the floor playing with my toddler.
I don’t play cars, or pretty ponies or blocks (although I do make a wonderful Godzilla, stomping tiny towns to bits as I pass through when the situation warrants). We gave him a sibling so SHE could play on the floor with our older child, thank you very much.
I frame nearly one-quarter of the artwork my children create (and carefully save the rest). What I won’t do is spend hours making sculptures out of clay alongside them. (My expertise ends at making “snakes”). In short, I may be a hands-on-mom but you will rarely find me on hands and knees.
I recall one young visitor simply aghast that he could not engage me in an afternoon of pirate adventure. I was sitting among the chaos writing (as I generally am) when this visiting swashbuckler tried, repeatedly, to draft me as a dragon.
“You chase me!” he’d exhort. “No thank you,” I’d say. And so we went, round and round that day.
I happen to know his mother is a chipper ball of energy that spent oodles of time playing cars and castles and kings. She was of the “hardest job I’ll ever do” ranks. She spent so much time playing with her son that I believe she kept house and attended to her own needs only in the wee hours while her child slept. Frankly, she just made it hard on herself, not to mention the rest of us.
To be sure, as my children grow I do wish I could go back in time and play a few more rounds of Pretty, Pretty Princess board games or read a few more books, but I still don’t miss wearing out the knees of my pants making “beep beep” sounds.
When it comes to parenthood I never felt the need to see motherhood as an exhaustive log or hardest job I ever did. To be honest, I find parenthood exhilarating and fun and pretty hysterical much of the time. I suspect that this means I am fairly good at it, or pretty bad
Only time will tell.