Through all the options in this wonderful “information age,” I’ve concluded that there is no blueprint for this generation of mothers
The Scene: My husband is driving as I sit in the backseat of our minivan with our two-year-old and four month-old daughters. The little one stares at me and coos as the older one watches an episode of SuperWhy that I downloaded from Netflix.
We’re driving from MD back to NY, a four-hour drive. Less than 24 hours before, we were on a 4-hour flight from Aruba back to Baltimore. So, yes, today, she can plant her pretty little face in front of a screen. #sueme
In today’s world of mom blogs, think pieces and strangers giving unsolicited parenting advice (starting at pregnancy), it’s so easy to judge and be judged for every little decision we make- even allowing our children to watch a show on an iPad.
This generation of parents cares so much about so much! So much thought (and judgment) goes into whether we have a natural birth (which has several meanings) or a C-section; breastfeed or formula feed; babywear, co-sleep, attachment parenting, organic food; vegan or nah, water or juice, public or private school, working or at home, tv or no screens ever, potty train, or is it toilet train, no toilet learning… and dare I say vaccinate?
Yes, we all want the best for our little ones but it’s exhausting AF to try to keep up with what it means to be “doing it right.”
Through all the options in this wonderful “information age,” I’ve concluded that there is no blueprint for this generation of mothers. In the most recent 70 or so years, we’ve seen women completely at home with children to working mothers making a career while the children attend public schools.
“Don’t believe the hype, mostly everyone’s winging it. Besides, not every household is created equally. What works for one mother may not work for another and vice versa.”
Comparatively, my peers are having children later in life, some have a career, some are at home, some work from home (a mompreneur is a thing). We’re all over the place. We’re not doing what our mother’s did, nor how they did it. Aside from career there’s this new element of our parenting where we are SUPER aware of how our parenting affects our children.
We’re keenly aware that our choices, our words and our actions have an impact on our children’s psyche. We care about their psyche, y’all! We care about exposure, experiences, messages in their media, screen-time, pronouns, cultural impact, global impacts. The list goes on.
I believe there is space for us to care about all these things but we need to add in a few elements to keep us sane. Here’s a few nuggets I’ve picked up along the way (so far):
1. Find and/or create community.
Most of us in New York are transplants, so we don’t have the luxury of having grandparents nearby who are always eager to spend time with their grandchildren – or even aunts or uncles. We have to make the most with what we’ve got. There’s an African proverb that goes, “it takes a village to raise a child” and that’s nothing but the truth. Your village can be friends, family and strangers alike. Friends and family are there for you, close to you and you trust them with your children.
The strangers in your village look could be from online groups members where you can ask questions and get advice from complete strangers who may have experience with random things you need help with. I personally have used Meetup.com and Facebook and have met some amazing people that I’m too awkward too have met otherwise. Joining interest groups is the conversation starter an introvert like myself needed when I was becoming a mother. I’m in a ton of mom groups and love them all. I consider them part of my “village.” But word to the wise, learn to filter the advice given from an online community because everyone in your interest group may not have your same values and that shows in the advice they give. #BuyerBeware
2. Remember, you’re doing your best!
In every moment, you are doing your absolute best. Sometimes your best looks like a clean house, dinner cooked, children bathed and reading books before bed. Other days your best may look like take out for everyone in the house, dishes in the sink, and a pile of toys to be left out until the next morning. Both are your best- that day. There are great days and not-so-great days. Give yourself permission to have a spectrum. And stop trying to have a marathon motherhood of perfect days- every day. On one of my “best” days, my two year old had a pouch for dinner and a wipe down (with a baby wipe) before bed. That was my best that day. And guess what? She survived.
3. Give yourself some grace.
It’s ok if you don’t have all the answers- no one does. It’s ok if you forgot to make treats for the whole class- pick something up. It’s ok if dinner isn’t ready before bedtime- order in. It’s ok if your child doesn’t have the latest toy or shoe or gadget- they’ll survive. It’s ok not to be perfect. You make up for it in love, compassion, respect, and caring so much about so much else! Give yourself permission to mess up sometimes and permission to get it wrong sometimes. We’ve gotten so much further with less. Release yourself of the illusion of perfect parenting and refer to #2 here.
The blueprint for our generation’s parenting doesn’t exist. It doesn’t live in the articles, books with all the advice in the world. Nor does it exist in the Pinterest boards or Instagram accounts that make motherhood look so easy. Curation is a helluva drug. Don’t believe the hype, mostly everyone’s winging it. Besides, not every household is created equally. What works for one mother may not work for another and vice versa. So let’s take the microscope off our lives and live them. The sheer fact that we care (so much about so much) means we’re doing an incredible job already. Take solace in that and push through! You’re doing great. I’m happy that you’re the type of person to read something like this!
Do you have any nuggets to add for the parents who care so much about so much? I’d be happy to read it. I’m learning as I go, just like anyone else.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of BK Reader.