Wednesday, June 10, 2009
It's been a while since I've taken up a call from the mavens of the interwebs, the virtual community of which I've found myself at times adoring and feeling oddly estranged, but her bad mother's recent manifesto -- followed by some other posts about what we feed our kids ... how we introduce them to the world ... or how others perceive us as we traverse the sometimes tragic path parenthood leads us down -- has my head spinning.
I can't help but think that while I agree with most of what has been articulated, any lable we put on it will subtly miss its mark, or worse; set up an entirely new layer of ways to compare ourselves to each other, when maybe we should be trying NOT to compare.
We can call ourselves Bad parents with the smugness of knowing we aren't; and as such try and snatch the word back from the media that we think has sold us some bill of goods we didn't need. A collection of To Do Lists that suggests the only way we will be Good parents is to follow their reporting on their Attachment Parenting protagonists hell-bent on turning the universe of parentbots into breast-feeding, baby-wearing hovercrafts who never even wrapped their babies butts in cloth diapers because the water to wash them is wasteful. Instead they dangled their little dewdrops over the composting toilet.
Meanwhile, we sit rapt and judgemental while the station break allows us to drool over the latest eco-friendly brain-food toys waiting for the gleaming white-toothed and visibly pregnant broadcaster to return and tease the next story about the hip parents in our neighborhoods currently enrolling their infants in Mandarin lessons at the Montessori school where they also practice violin and tai-chi.
Of course, we could switch the channel and hear from the Ferberists who would like to reintroduce the scientific proof that formula is nutritionally superior to breast milk, and that mothers who leave the home really don't love their children, or perhaps if they don't leave the home they are traders to their gender. They might be pushing the agenda that we should all be enrolling our kids in public school, lest we unwittingly flush society down the crapper.
Then there's the conundrum of fear. Should we be letting our kids have more freedom or less? Is junior too fat? Are they spending too much time in front of the television. Is school too demanding? Not demanding enough? Are they usurping our authority?
Good parents will know, infallably, what to do. They will be the deciders. Of course the BAD parents we're talking about were never REALLY bad, they were just judged.
The gyst is that in realizing the impossibility of adhering to all these influences we must accept that there are just too many books to live by and what seems intolerable to me isn't tolerated by you. So we should do our best, what speaks to us, and accept our collection of quirks under the moniker of "bad," put it on our chest and wear it proudly.
Bad is the new good.
... but I just can't get behind that either.
It's just another slogan. Another option to confound us.
Mothers have been the scapegoats since Eve. Freud cemented the notion in modern psychology, and every damn Disney film of mass appeal has done away with us to acheive a better arc. We pit ourselves against one another, we wallow in our own insecurities and then we blame media for making us feel demoralized and disappointed when our expectations of ourselves are not met. Then we chastise each other for giving us a "smack down."
And with so much time to fill, the media can hit every damn one of us (if we let them) just because it has to fill air time. And let's not forget the market, because they pretty something up and sell it to your friends and all of a sudden you HAVE to have it. But even if we fall for all of this hook, line and sinker we have to admit, if we're going to be honest, it's not their fault. It's ours.
We all are horrible. We are all amazing. We are all human and we always have been.
And no matter what we do, whether we accept any particular mantle - bad or good - our children will all blame us for each decision we made, no matter what it was. Sometimes they will be justified. My hope is that if we truly were good parents, our kids will forgive us when they've matured enough to realize it.
Like my mother before me, I am a human being doing the best I can at any given moment of the day. Some days I fare better than others.
I don't even know what that means in the wide world of parenting these days.
My guess is I shouldn't judge.
But not judging doesn't mean I can't disagree.
Or does it?