Dear New Parents,
Hi! How’s it going?
Feeling a bit tired? Maybe a little less spry these days, what with the 2 a.m. feedings or trying to keep up with a toddler who’s trying to turn your hair gray – licking outlets, leaping down stairs, not eating antioxidant-rich foods?
Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed. Out of your league. Like you’ll never get the hang of this parenting thing and the guilt is starting to seep in with more and more “What the hell am I doing?” moments.
How can this be? You aced calculus. You run a successful business. Maybe you even know how to drive a stick.
And yet you can’t quite get over the feeling that if there were a parenting pop quiz tomorrow, you’d score a C+. Maybe a B-, but only after downing a Trenta cold brew and a Red Bull.
All other parents seem like they have it under control. Know what they’re doing. Are even – dare you say it – better at this parenting thing than you are.
I’m going to save you some wondering:
They are better.
Other parents are better.
They are better than you in all ways.
They are better at disciplining their kids, motivating their kids, and keeping their kids out of harm’s way.
Their children will have more friends in school, lead more fulfilling lives, and never need therapy.
Their kids will rule. And all because other parents are much better parents than you can ever hope to be.
It’s a truth I learned too late to save my own kids. It took me 16 years – reading Internet parenting message boards, reading parenting books and magazine articles, reading parenting blogs, and finally downloading the “Why Other Parents Are Better Than You” app – to understand completely all the ways I would never measure up.
It’s been disheartening.
But more upsetting was the sheer length of the process of fully coming to terms with the fact that, well, I kinda suck.
I mean, compared to other parents.
So, to spare you my time and effort in learning all the ways I could change (but probably won’t) in order to be more awesome (but probably can’t), I now present the definitive list of all the parents who are better than I am.
In no particular order.
1. Strict Parents
2. Laid Back Parents
3. Urban Parents who give their kids access to culture and street smarts
4. Parents in the suburbs who have backyards, good schools, and soccer coaches from Brazil
5. Country parents whose kids learn responsibility by operating large farm equipment and who know exactly what to call the chicken hole where eggs come from
6. Parents who vaccinate
7. Parents who don’t vaccinate
8. Parents who keep a clean house and carry hand sanitizer
9. Parents who allow their kids as much contact with germs as possible in order to build up their immune system and keep their kids healthy
10. Breastfeeding parents
11. Bottle feeding parents
12. Religious parents
13. Atheist parents
14. Parents who don’t know whether or not God can help them be better parents
15. Conservative parents
16. Liberal parents
18. Noam Chomsky
19. Free Range parents
20. Kiddie Leash parents
21. Organic parents
22. Digital native parents
23. Unplugged parents
24. Parents who don’t allow cell phones at the age you allowed your kids to have a cell phone
24. Authoritarian parents
25. Authoritative parents
26. Positive parents
27. Permissive parents
28. Persuasive parents
29. Mary Poppins parents
33. James Dobson
34. “I Love Ezzo” parents
35. “I Hate Ezzo” parents
36. Younger parents
37. Older parents
38. Parents of only children
39. Parents of two children
40. Parents of many children
41. The Cosbys
42. The Brady Bunch
43. The Waltons
44. Until recently, The Duggars (although Jessa is probably still better than you are.)
45. Kramer (the dad) but not Kramer (the mother)
46. Parents who pick up crying kids
47. Parents who don’t pick up crying kids
48. Parents who co-sleep
49. Parents who don’t co-sleep
50. Parents who spank
51. Parents who don’t spank
52. Parents who care enough about their kids to send them to public school
53. Parents who care enough about their kids to send them to private school
54. Parents who care enough about their kids to homeschool them
55. Parents who birthed their kids vaginally
56. Parents who birthed their kids vaginally at home with help
57. Parents who birthed their kids vaginally at home with no help
58. Parents who birthed their kids vaginally with no help in a rain forest on the summer solstice
59. Parents who didn’t birth kids vaginally just because they like fancy groin scars
60. Parents who didn’t birth kids vaginally because they are men
61. Parents-to-be who will never make any of the parenting mistakes you made
62. Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie
63. Straight parents
64. Gay parents
65. Married parents
66. Single parents
67. Caitlyn Jenner
68. Parents with a high school diploma
69. Parents with a college degree
70. Parents with a graduate degree
71. Parents with no book learning
72. Parents who read parenting books
73. Tiger Moms
74. French Meres
75. Ikea moms
76. Russian figure skating coaches
77. Your Mother-In-Law
78. Mother Teresa
79. Martha Stewart
80. Pinterest Moms
81. Parents who blog about their kids
82. Parents who don’t blog about their kids
83. Parents who update all their kids’ baby books
84. Parents too busy parenting to update all their kids’ baby books
85. Uber Moms
86. Good Enough Moms
87. Slow Parenting Moms
88. Slacker Moms
89. Parents who take time for themselves
90. Parents who get down on the floor and play with their kids
91. Parents who get down on the floor and teach their kids
92. Parents who teach their kids to put in flooring
93. Parents who stay at home
94. Parents who work at home
95. Parents who work outside the home
96. Parents who are at home outside
97. Parents who let their kids drink from the garden hose outside
98. Parents who let their kids eat Chicken McNuggets from the garden hose
99. Parents who let their free range chickens hose down the house as one of their chores
100. Parents who pay their free range chickens an allowance to hose down the house as one of their chores
101. Parents of chickens
102. Parents of Chuck Norris
103. My Mom
I may have missed a few.
I’m kinda subpar at blogging definitive parenting lists.
But surely, that’s enough to convince you that you’ll never measure up, either.
So, you know … carry on.
Chances are that unless you are just really a complete jerk across several categories on a Venn diagram of types of jerks, your messed-up type of parenting is mediocre enough for your messed-up type of kid.
Even messed-up, you know more than you think you do. Maybe.
Still, you’ll never be as good as Dr. Spock.