I am in no way new to this Mom gig. I’ve been around the block a time or (twenty) two. From the Shit-filled Diapers slow-lane of babyhood to the Angst-filled and Pimply fast-lane of teenagers. My parenting philosophies have most certainly morphed and evolved over the couple of decades I’ve been a parent.
I used to be all judgy and harbor some very strong opinions on how to – and how not to – raise kids. Mostly, I kept my judgments to myself (and maybe my husband, but we all know he wasn’t listening) unless I was point-blank asked for advice. No one ever seems to ask for judgement though…weird.
Anyway, with advancing age, super annoying hot flashes and a broader perspective on so many parenting issues, I have simply stopped giving a fuck.
It could be that I’m just ridiculously tired, but I’ve also had the chance to see how these kids, our little human experiments, turn out. I’ve waded and wandered through that forest and have glanced back to realize that each little tree, in and of itself, doesn’t mean shit, but the whole vast woodland is what is significant.
Yep, I’m admitting that I’m old enough to see now clearly see THE BIG (parenting) PICTURE. And I’ve got the neck wrinkles to back up my bravado. When you’re deep in those muddy trenches of motherhood, it’s pretty easy to lose sight of the big picture. To get caught up in the trendy Mom debates and to care a little too much about the insignificant things, that seem like important AF things in the heat of momming competitions.
Did you dutifully take prenatal vitamins, or did you on rare occasion gulp down one of those smelly horse pills?
I don’t care either way.
Did you attend Mommy and Me Yoga or nap on your couch in stained sweatpants most every evening?
Could not care less.
Did you breastfeed and suffer cracked and bleeding nipples or did you use canned formula?
Did you give your kids wooden toys lovingly made by hand in Norway, or buy plastic ones on sale from Target?
Did you painstakingly blend up your own organic baby food or let your kids eat cereal with artificial colors and flavors for breakfast?
I’m glad you fed them.
Did you have them on an organized soccer team by age 4 or let them simply run around in the backyard all weekend long?
Still not caring.
Did you leave a 5 and 7-year-old in the locked car while you ran into the dry cleaners for 2 minutes, or did you schlep them with you into every damn place you had to go every damn day of their childhood?
Did you let them have a TV in their bedroom or strictly forbid it?
Did you force them to read for 20 minutes every weeknight with a timer or did you forget about it most of the time?
*still checking phone*
Did you go to a church or temple or some other place of organized religion every week, or was that not your thing?
Do you let them drink soda or only plain water and an occasional organic juice?
Don’t give a shit.
Do you make them go to the dentist twice a year or barely remember to buy them a new toothbrush every year or so?
Did you let them have a cell phone when they were 10 or do you prohibit all screen time?
Your kid, your call.
But here’s what I really want to know. Here are the few things I actually DO really care about when it comes to parenting.
Are you dismissive of groups of people because their skin color is different than yours?
Do you make disparaging remarks about people who pray to a different God than you do? Or who don’t believe in any God?
Do you ridicule people who were born in a different country, or who gender-identify in a way that doesn’t seem “right” to you?
Do you talk down to people who you think are less than you in some way?
Because if you do, and your children observe your actions and words, that is where the line gets sharply and boldly drawn in a permanent marker. That is where I care a whole damn lot and where I will absolutely judge you and how you parent your children.
Because now I truly know.
That vitamins and screen time and organic juice and limiting soda and keyboard lessons do not a kind and empathetic adult make. That most of those minor issues mean absolutely nothing when it comes to what kind of people you are raising.
That even a couple hateful remarks in front of a child can affect how they will treat others as they grow up. That compassion needs to be modeled and talked about and made more important than a child’s grades or athletic abilities or whether they ate food with artificial sugar once in a while or they got into the “good” school.
So just don’t be an asshole.
And your kid probably won’t become one either.