My first-time-preggo friend recently asked me, “What was the biggest surprise you got when you became a mom?” It’s a loaded question. There are so many possible responses, but one answer instantly came to the forefront of my mind: I had no idea how important my children’s upbringing would be to everyone else around me, including perfect strangers.
Perhaps naively, I figured having kids would be a personal experience. I would make choices based on my beliefs and goals, and apply them to the way I raised my daughters. But, social media has taught me that parenting is an Olympic sport and the judging panel is made up of everyone and anyone who isn’t you. The Facebook hive is constantly buzzing with articles, videos, and memes telling you what you’re doing wrong. Against my own judgment, I dared to click on some of the links my “friends” have shared and the results are in. Ladies and gentlemen, I am a terrible parent.
In no particular order of shame, here are the top five reasons that I’m a terrible parent according to Facebook.
1. I Have a Babysitter
That is very sweet that you can’t bear to be away from your babies for a few hours — they must be angels! And I totally get that you can’t trust your precious bundles with anyone but family. Unfortunately, since we don’t have family in the area, we have had to resort to leaving our girls in the capable hands of a loving, wonderful, playful babysitter every other weekend. I know, my husband and I are super selfish for making our marriage a priority in our lives and choosing to spend quality time together away from the kids. I know my girls are just putting on a show for me when they squeal with delight when I tell them that Nanny Jane is coming. Surely, they are struggling with deep issues of abandonment as they parade around the house chanting her name.
2. I Use Disposable Diapers
Full disclosure: I used cloth diapers with my first baby, so I get it. Yes, they are exponentially better for the environment. True, I never had any diaper rash issues with Violet, my first. But, here’s the thing: The amazing delivery cloth service we once had in town closed and I despise doing laundry. It’s just a couple of extra loads a week, you say? Yep, that’s a couple of extra loads too many for me. I have developed a sophisticated laundry schedule that has me washing, drying, and folding exactly two loads of laundry per week. So my second baby girl, Sabine, wears disposables that arrive on my doorstep every six weeks. The bottom line? Her tush is just peachy.
3. I’m Not a Stickler on Bedtime
Now, don’t get me wrong. For the most part, I try to stick with a routine that works well for my kiddos, which is lights out by 8 PM during the school year, 9 PM during the summer. After all, my “me time” is limited and these Gilmore Girls episodes aren’t going to watch themselves. But, that being said, there are times when I let the rules slide, like when Sesame Street Live is passing through town or the grandparents are visiting or we decide to turn a weekend of Phish concerts into a family adventure. Yes, routine may be the key to success, but that depends on your definition of success. Sometimes success is that look of sheer glee in your child’s eyes because they are doing something special and different and unforgettable.
4. I Poison My Children on a Daily Basis
Sometimes my newsfeed reads like a medical journal with all of the articles pouring in linking various snacks to various diseases. After some careful research of my own, I have found that aside from kale, virtually every food on the planet can be harmful to your child in some way. In another exciting study I conducted in my own home, there is conclusive evidence linking a bag of fruit snacks to getting my 2-year-old to go upstairs and take a nap.
5. I Get My Kicks from Netflix
Yes, it’s true: My kids watch television, the biggest offense of all. It’s not even a “rare treat.” It’s pretty much a nightly occurrence bridging the gap between dinner and bedtime. It’s a glorious half hour during which my girls cuddle on the couch together, their little legs and shoulders side by side, their eyes glazing over, getting ready to flutter closed for the night. Sometimes I even subject them to the devil’s box during the day so that I can do something special for myself, like clean the kitchen or cook my family poisonous dinners.
So, yeah, I make mistakes, but I’m pretty sure the person who posted about the dangers of Teddy Grahams has her flaws, too. No one is getting a perfect score on parenting, but we are all doing our best. Let’s support each other, ladies, and leave the judging to the Olympics.