Parenting is a tricky bastard. It moves. It shifts. It misleads. As soon as you feel you’ve got a firm grasp on it, it turns to dust in your hands, blowing right through your exhausted fingers. It leaves you frazzled. It makes a fool of you.
I have been a parent for only 12 years. Yet I recognize it for the nimble minx that it is.
When I think about the kind of parent I want to be, I picture a scene from a movie. Like Diane Keaton in The Family Stone. The quintessential mother.
Welcome to the time of year when these three little words are heard more than ever:
I. Want. That.
As I do a mental review of the most coveted/sought after and hottest Christmas gifts from last Christmas, I give a giant eye roll and two big thumbs down to the following purchases for my sons, now ages five and eight.
Thanks for nothing, Santa Claus…
How to Train Your Kid to Be Polite:
Step one: Be polite to them.
Step two: Refuse to do anything for them (i.e. get them a glass of water, help them tie their shoes, buy them stuff, feed them) unless they are polite to you.
Step three: Repeat steps one and two 9,657,987 times.
Becoming a mother is like walking into a high school cafeteria. The cool moms, women who manage to get dressed and brush their teeth on a daily basis, sit at their own table. The moms who breast feed sit together, while the formula moms sit elsewhere. The sleep trainers swap stories at their table. The co-sleepers eat their lunches alone, so they can finally stretch out. The attachment parents wear their babies at the corner table. And everyone waits for a new mom to drop her lunch tray, so they can gasp and point fingers and roll their eyes at her missteps.
Well, this is the picture perpetuated by the Mommy War mentality, an archaic notion that reduces grown women to catty school girls.
I watch the families. I see a mom happy as can be that she has her whole family with her today as they are throwing a ball to their jubilant Golden Retriever and the kids tumble through the grass to see who can get to the ball first. The dog always wins. The mom takes out a snack and gives a little to each child along with a juice box. The dad doesn’t seem to like the mess they’re making, but laughs and shakes his head anyway.
That will never be my life.