I don’t think you need to be a parent to recognize good and bad parenting. But when it comes to parent-shaming and passing judgment, those who have never had to strategically figure out how they’re going to pee while distracting a toddler from the toilet paper should take those stones they like to throw and build a nice spa retreat for those of us playing “Keep Away” with the Charmin.
Parenting: Situations in the mirror are more challenging than they appear.
It’s easy for us to tell Amber Rose to put some clothes on and focus on motherhood or tell Kim Kardashian to get off her phone long enough to get North in the car seat correctly until someone is shelling out their opinions on your own efforts. There are plenty of questionable red carpet dresses and straight-to-Netflix movies that are worthy of your unwarranted opinions. In the meantime, be a little easier on the folks just trying to get their kids to adulthood in one piece.
Here are 7 parenting epiphanies that got me re-thinking my own glass house:
1. Loading kids in the car street-side.
I’m sure there’s a parenting handbook or car seat manual somewhere that mentions why car seats are always placed behind the passenger, but I’d be lying if I claimed to know why. What this means for me is that on the slim chance there’s a parking spot free directly in front of the house, I’ll be parking on the left side, leaving me to have to load my daughter on the street side. It was fine and good when I had newborn and could prance to car with a cute diaper bag, a 7 lb. infant on one warm and my purse and coffee thermos in the other, but now that she’s a solid twenty pounds, the walk from the door step to my mid-sized sedan is no joke. By the time I use my teeth to disarm my alarm I’m usually already sweating before I have to pull off a Cirque Du Soleil act to try to load old girl into the car from the sidewalk. Did I mention I also have to check to make sure the socks she’s pulled off are inside of the car and not in our cul de sac. So yes, please mind your business and focus on driving while I load my child in street side after I pick her car seat up off the ground before allowing my arms to return from spaghetti-status.
2. Pushing a pint-sized adult in a stroller.
Did I mention my arms are burning after carrying my one-year-old for five minutes? I can only imagine having to choose between leaving your four-year-old spread-eagle on the floor of the soap aisle because they refuse to walk and putting his overgrown behind in the stroller so you can get a loaf of split-top wheat and get home. Unless you want to play piggy-back with my toddler and her sticky hands fresh from finger-painting with pureed sweet potatoes, I suggest you ignore the fact that her feet are 2 inches from the floor in this stroller.
3. Being tired.
I used to look at some parents and think, “You have a 7-month old and a full-time job, why are you so tired? You’re not doing anything other parents aren’t doing all over the world.” Yep, I now want to slap MYSELF upside the head for saying that. I am blessed to have a husband, two sets of grandparents and a full support system of friends and family who are always willing to chip in and help us as we navigate this life as new parents. But even with all that help, there are still days that I find myself passed out on the nursery floor because the saying is true: Babies can’t fall off the floor. And sometimes my eyelids are no match for a one-year old hyped up off Gerber Graduate Puffs.
4. Not having kids on a schedule.
It’s kind of hard to get a baby on a routine when you don’t even have one of your own. My husband works a rotating schedule meaning him and sleep have a love/hate relationship. Add that to me balancing a full-time day job and the conflicting schedule of inspiration and energy that comes with being a writer and it’s easy to see why my daughter’s naps happens wherever she lands when she can no longer fight sleep. Judge your mother. We’ll get it together one day.
5. Choosing names with unnecessary hyphens.
My daughter will join a generation of Harper’s, Dylan’s and Riley’s in terms of non-gender specific names. Even before she had a social security number, people didn’t hesitate to express their disapproval and questioned why I was naming my daughter after a city in New Jersey. I too, used to side-eye creative apostrophes and the "Kaleons" in the nursery that result after mom and dad attempt to blend their names seamlessly. A year later, and I still don’t care. Unless I can use your opinion as a write-off on my taxes, it’s irrelevant. The only ones whose opinions really matter when it comes to naming kids, are the ones who have to yell it every time that kid decides to taste test the dog’s fur. Until then, it’s not Watermelondrea so I think I’m safe by Raven Symone’s standards.
I swore I would never be the parent using the the baby's crib as storage for diapers and toys after I stalked 3 IKEA’s to see which one had "Grey" in stock, and thankfully I’m not. But that doesn’t mean my daughter is sleeping in it either. The separation anxiety struggle is real and the only thing we cry it out over around these parts is when a major character on The Walking Dead is killed off. This means that ever since my daughter outgrew her sleeper she has been getting her plank on perpendicular-style between me and my husband. Veteran moms warned me that the longer she stays, the harder it will be to get her to sleep in her own room, and they were right. As soon as we lift her over the crib she starts breaking down like Trey Songz in a thunderstorm. At least I scored some Pinterest points since the crib looks awfully nice in the nursery we’re only using to change diapers and have tummy-time in.
7. Not hitting MILF status all day/every day.
I never realized how much having a baby totally transforms your perception of time. When you have a baby you have a whole other person you have to prepare every time you leave the house. It’s not like I can just throw my one-year-old a cute sweat suit and give her the thumbs up before I go to flat iron my hair. In addition to doing my makeup, ironing my clothes and perfecting my invisible part, I have to pick out my daughter’s outfit, time when to actually put it on so she can leave the house covered in the least amount of drool/spit up possible and make sure her diaper bag has a change of clothes, at least three pacifiers and all of the basics if for whatever reason we’re left stranded in the middle of abandoned highway. Excuse me, if I don’t leave the house looking like Halle Berry every day. I’m just happy to be wearing a matching bra and underwear.