Tonight on Facebook, a friend of mine sent out a desperate plea for someone to help her figure out how to manage bedtime for her two young kids when her husband isn’t there to assist. I wrote a long, rambling comment about how I know where she’s coming from because my husband is also often away, and when the kids were small their bedtimes were often filled with me running frantically back and forth between the rooms, while the children cried their angry cries, and I felt overcome with frustration over not being able to conduct a sweet and quiet bedtime.
My comment was probably not as helpful as I had hoped it would be since I solved nothing, but I wanted her to know that someone knew the pain of her situation.
She responded that she felt like a failure as a mom and I instantly responded that she is NOT a failure as a mom and to please try and avoid the mom guilt trap because it is never-ending and if you fall in you may never get out again. Also? I’m pretty sure that bedtimes just kind of suck for a lot of parents in the same situation.
In the same way that I have a feeling that bedtimes are hard for many parents, I also have a feeling that the pressure to be a perfect parent (a perfect mother especially) is increasing exponentially with each passing decade. The number of parenting articles and books and blogs (uh-hem) dedicated to ensuring that WE ALL KNOW THE RIGHT WAY TO PARENT is overwhelming. We are drowning in this stuff and I don’t think that it’s for our benefit.
Too much of anything is too much.
Too much parenting expertise blather makes parents feel as though there really are experts out there. What is a parenting expert? Is it someone who made it through the parenting gauntlet unscathed and now has a series of perfect children all lined up in a row to show for it? I call poppycock.
I say that most parents stumble here and there and do the best they can and have some falls but still manage to make it through anyway. And I bet their kids do okay as well.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t attempt to do our best, but I am saying that being chattered at non-stop by experts from every corner is drowning out our willingness to think for ourselves. We are all becoming drones. And if we fall short of what we perceive others to be achieving, we feel like failures as parents and are apt to fall into that bottomless well of mom guilt.
Do not buy into that. I heard a self-described parenting expert on the radio the other day spouting off some nonsense about something-or-other and this guy sounded so old that if he had children, they had probably moved out of the house thirty years prior. Call me sexist, but I have trouble believing that this elderly man had a hands-on experience in rearing his kids. It certainly wasn’t the norm back then. My point is, that this man declared himself an expert and because we all live in the age where we are told we need experts to guide us or OUR CHILDREN ARE DOOMED, we let him go on the radio and “educate” the masses.
Stop the insanity!
We need to stop letting ourselves follow these so-called experts blindly and start trusting our common sense. Consider if the expert educating you has an alternative agenda (money, perhaps?). It is within us to know the way, we just have to trust ourselves when it comes to parenting.
If we pause for a moment when the parenting gets tough, trust that we know the best way to proceed, think rationally, and move forward, we will stop falling into the mom guilt trap because we know that we did our best. No one else can do it better than us so there’s no reason to feel guilty, even when the bedtimes kind of suck. Because they will sometimes.