My sister is my lifeline to sane parenting. We’re 19 months apart in age, and although she’s the younger one, she’s always done everything before me. She kissed a boy first, got her period first, got married before me, and even had kids first.
But the fact that she’s younger doesn’t stop me for relying on her for help in making wiser parenting decisions than I probably would have done without her support. You see, her youngest is just a year older than my oldest, and she experiences most parenting issues first. I would not survive without her advice.
Okay, I probably would survive, but I guarantee I would look a lot more paranoid, and a lot more like mommy dearest, if I didn’t have someone to call while crying in my bathroom.
I think every parent needs a lifeline parent. Sisters are best in my honest, very biased opinion, but I also know that not everyone has a sister. A lifeline parent can be any friend who can help keep things real and talk you down from impulsive decisions based on guilt, fear, hunger, sleep deprivation among others. And they are someone who is not your spouse. Every mom needs a sounding board that is not her spouse.
A couple of years ago, my daughter was going through some girl drama with a kid at school. My gut instinct? Call the other parent immediately and let them know that their kid was the jerk, not mine. Thank goodness I called my sister instead.
I told her the whole story, and she listened quietly as I ranted about the horrible child who was being mean to my sweet, innocent daughter who could not possibly have done anything wrong. I ranted about how these parents need to know what their child is doing. I’m doing a service to them, right? By letting them know how awful their child is?
My sister saved me. My daughter was only a second-grader, and the other kid wasn’t doing anything that could even remotely be considered legitimate bullying.
“Don’t call the other parent. This is normal. H went through that last year and instead of calling the other parent, we did a lot of role-playing of things she could say and do to make the situation better. Try that before you try calling the other parent.”
Oooh. Role playing. Never thought of THAT before.
Thank goodness she talked me down from possibly ruining my friendship with another mom by calling her up to complain about her daughter. And, honestly, role-playing? Let’s be real — I could have thought of that myself. But my instinct was to call the other parent and rant over something that was pretty much run-of-the-mill second-grader stuff anyway.
I’ve relied on my sister for many similar situations over the years. I call her to ask for advice on a wide range of issues including whether I’m overreacting or whether my kid needs to see a therapist or is just a little weirdo.
So, I say that everyone needs a lifeline parent. How do you know what to look for in a lifeline parent? Here are a few ideas:
Find someone who will assure you that it’s okay to hate your kids sometimes. After all, your lifeline parent has kids who are jerks too.
You need someone to help you understand that you’ve lost your freaking mind if you want to plan a Pinterest birthday party complete with themed favors and a cake you try to make yourself from a YouTube video.
They lovingly and gently point out to you that your kids are not perfect. My sister loves my kids like crazy, because she’s my sister, but she let’s me know that they actually screw up too, just like every other kid on the planet. It keeps me from thinking my kids can do no wrong.
They need to be able to remind you that it’s okay to ditch your kids once in a while, and it’s weird to feel guilty about it. Your lifeline parent needs to remind you that you are a human and need self-care. And bonus if you escape your kids together and go get pedicures.
They let you vent, and they agree that kids are the worst. Even though kids are not the actual worst, they let you think that when you are eating your feelings with a pint of ice cream while sobbing into the phone.
A lifeline parent knows when to say, “I don’t know. I’ve never been through that before,” and just offer sympathy without judgment.
And they know when to tell you to take your kid to the doctor because of that weird looking rash.
They are the one you can call at the last minute, and they will watch your kids for you so you can have a moment of sanity or run a quick errand.
They are the one who if you were lying on the bathroom floor puking your guts out, you could call and they would come take your kids even risking their own health to do it.
A lifeline parent will tell you when you are acting irrational, insane, overreacting, or seeing something through rose-colored glasses and the beauty is: If they are your lifeline parent, you almost always know they’re right. And you don’t even get that pissed off.
I’m convinced that motherhood was never meant to be a solo affair. Moms need to stick together and remind each other of the simple truths of parenting. Kids can be jerks while somehow looking utterly adorable doing it, and it’s okay to want to run away every once in a while. That’s just part of the job.