In this age of social media, we have so much access to information...it certainly has it's advantages (it's good to know stuff), but there are plenty of disadvantages as well. While I'm a huge fan of evidence based information (the good kind, not the stuff that is based on a small sample size or is poorly designed or what-have-you), why does it always seem to come to us in the form of "study says this, so if you can't manage it, you are FAILING."
I recently had an innocent conversation with a respected colleague and friend who recommended a workshop for parents about infant sleep. Apparently research was presented that showed that babies who were left to "cry it out" fared less well in the long term, neurologically speaking. Whether or not this is true was irrelevant to me...all I felt was judgment! And I didn't even try the cry it out method! While these studies may be true, as humans, we don't exist in a bubble. There are thousands of factors that go into how we "turn out." Don't get caught up in these narrow "rules."
Scrolling down my Facebook feed, I have seen all kinds of studies: breast is best, don't let your kids watch too much TV, don't let them eat processed food, make sure they read hours everyday, do this, do this, do this, don't do that....Sweet Jesus! Can I breathe for a second here!? Most recently, this spot-on quote from Bunmi Laditan made its way into my feed:
"How To Be A Mom in 2017: Make sure your children's academic, emotional, psychological, mental, spiritual, physical, nutritional, and social needs are met while being careful not to overstimulate, understimulate, improperly medicate, helicopter, or neglect them in a screen-free, processed foods-free, GMO-free, negative energy-free, plastic-free, body positive, socially conscious, egalitarian but also authoritative, nurturing but fostering of independence, gentle but not overly permissive, pesticide-free two-story, multilingual home preferably in a cul-de-sac with a backyard and 1.5 siblings spaced at least two year apart for proper development also don't forget the coconut oil.
"How To Be A Mom In Literally Every Generation Before Ours: Feed them sometimes.
"(This is why we're crazy.)"
If there is one thing I've learned from 16 years of parenting, it's that all of this mommy-judgment is utter Bull. Shit. It's worth the strong words! Being a mom is hard, in so, so many ways! We all want to do what's best for our kids and with all of the "shoulds" and "should nots" out there, it's enough to drive a lady crazy! And it often pits mom against mom when all we really need is each other's support! Here's a few more strong words: Fuck that!
I often tell my students, "Just do the best you can, get through the day, and all that really matters is that you love your kids." I stand by those words, and today I add a few more: Love YOURSELF! That means be kind to yourself. Don't waste your precious time feeling like you are not doing a good enough job or regretting the decisions you made (especially if they were "choices" between two equally rotten scenarios). If it helps for me to spin it to your children's advantage, loving yourself teaches your children that they should love themselves. Being kind to yourself when you intentionally choose something "lesser" for your own sanity teaches them it's worth taking care of yourself. Making mistakes and letting go teaches them they don't need to be perfect to be loved. They deserve it, and mostly YOU deserve it!
On this Mother's Day weekend, may you wear a giant, invisible judgment deflector. I hope you will give yourself a huge pat on the back for all you do and demand whatever makes you feel good. And if putting your feet up and reading a book is your cup of tea, check out Laditan's new novel Confessions of a Domestic Failure: A Humorous Book About a not so Perfect Mom. I haven't read it yet, but it's sure to be a good one. I'm going to add it to my summer reading list and enjoy even if it means I lock my kids outside for the day. I'm certain they'll be fine.