This may come as a shock, I know. I mean, I’m sure your children have never left your sight for one moment, and they always say, “please” and “thank you” at the ice cream store, and they never tell the grocery store checkout person about that one time they saw Mommy and Daddy wrestling naked. Never.
I’m not sure what it is in our collective consciousness that wants to flock together to holler at the latest parent who has failed. We all fail as a parents over and over and over. And if you don’t fail as a parent, you simply aren’t trying hard enough.
That one time I wasn’t watching my 3-year-old daughter swinging in a hammock and she landed on a rock and cracked her head and started puking? I failed. That other time my son was super quiet and I found out he was eating one of those packets that specifically say, “Do not eat”? Fail. The many times I misinterpret what happened and yell at the wrong child, when I lose my shit at bedtime, when I’m struggling in my own life and it becomes their problem, when I lost my son in the mall once when he was 18-months-old by turning around for one second. He was simply gone. Fail, fail, fail, fail. The only difference is that I got lucky each of those times. And nobody was videotaping my fails and plastering it all over the internet to tell me what a horrible parent I am. But now you know.
Can we all just give each other a break and assume that no one is perfect and no one ever will be and that everyone is struggling with the shitshow that is parenting? Everyone is struggling. And, I swear to God, if you go in the comments and say that you never struggle, not one person believes you. Not one person. So say it all you want, but if you have a child, we know your life. It’s scary and confusing and half the time you don’t know what you’re doing, and that’s just the diaper changes.
Even if your children are the best behaved, most likable, most obedient little souls that ever were, they will still be little shits. I know this. I have great kids. They aren’t always great. They alternately make me want to smother them with how much I love them and flick them in the forehead for some stupid choice they made (I restrain myself, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to do it).
Your child can wander away in an instant, even if you are the most vigilant of parents.
Your child will cry in restaurants and disturb other people who planned on having a quiet meal.
You will ignore them at times when they need you.
Your child will make terrible choices that involve sharpies or putting things up their nose.
Your child will maybe say “fuck” for the first time in front of their grandparents.
You might drop them right on their head.
You will probably have to carry them screaming out of some establishment at some point, because they want a snack or because they do not like wearing shoes.
You may simply take a shower and your child could cover their entire body with vaseline.
They will wreck your family pictures.
You will yell even when you promised yourself you wouldn’t.
They will relieve themselves outside when you aren’t watching.
They will embarrass you, and in turn, you will embarrass them.
They will completely ruin fun days that you have had planned forever because of some weird thing kids seem to do on the most fun days.
You will let them do whatever they want all day long that one day when you are too sick to get off the couch.
They will fail at being normal, and you will fail at parenting them and that’s OK. What’s not OK is pretending like you are perfect to try and tear other parents down when they have made a mistake.
Let’s repeat together: I’m not perfect, and no one expects me to be. And just hope that your next fail does not get featured in tomorrow’s Facebook feed.