Hey Mamas: Ditch the Directions

Pssst… Hey Mamas, can I talk to you for just a second? Okay, maybe 10. If you are reading this, it is likely not the first blog or social media post you have ever clicked on. Chances are, if you see something that starts with “Hey Moms” or “Parenting Tips” or “How to Potty Train Your Kid in 12 Minutes” you jump on it like a 5-year-old on bubble wrap.

They are all over the web. Parenting tips, tales of woe, warnings for the masses. My recent favorite is “5 Things you are probably doing that are harming your children”

No, I haven’t read it. I don’t read them. You probably shouldn’t either, at least not without a grain of salt (or a glass of wine).

Let’s make sure we are all clear on this now. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PARENTING EXPERT. Sure, there are expert parents, and maybe you can learn a thing or two, but just because they got their Sally to sleep in a big girl bed by 18 months with no problem, does not mean you are a horrible failure because Timmy is three and still clinging to the bars of his crib.

Tips are great, but when I see something about potty training, or how to stop temper tantrums written by a woman with a blog and a 5-year-old, I giggle. She hasn’t experienced the terrible 8s yet. She hasn’t had another child, she hasn’t begun to uncover the world of temper tantrums. More importantly to my way of thinking, she doesn’t know how her methods will effect him as an adult.

Or how about this; all the coverage “getting your body back” is getting. I’m sorry, where did my body go after children exactly? Did I donate it? Have I lost it somewhere between Aldi and Target? I didn’t lose my body, I got more of it. Most of the women posting pictures of their post-baby bods either have a genetic advantage or 26 hours in the day to fit in their workouts. Kudos to them, but ladies, that is just not going to work for everyone. That doesn’t mean you give in to a lifestyle of pizza and couch sitting, but for heaven’s sake the next mother I know who posts an “inspiration” photo to Pinterest of a 5′ 10″ woman with rock hard abs and an obvious aversion to all things carbohydrate is getting a personal phone call from my therapist. Rock your mama body! You grew a human. Even Superman can’t boast that particular power. (Even mamas who didn’t actually give birth will see some changes, it’s a mother thing, be proud your biology is responding to what your heart already knew, you’re a mom!)

No mother is going to be perfect and I honestly think we are all making ourselves neurotic reading all of these articles on the way our daughters will grow up with self esteem issues if we let her play with princesses, or how our boys are going to grow into violent, confused men if we don’t allow them time to play with dolls (do you see the weird dichotomy there?). Turn off the noise and learn your kids! Forgive the grammar, but it’s an appropriate phrase. Stop looking at all the “advice” and start letting your kids show you who they are. Let them tell you what works and what doesn’t. Give them the grace to be human. Realize they are not just miniature versions of you or your spouse. They are individuals. They will fail, so will you. That’s not a negative, just a fact. Show them how to get up, dust off and try again, and then drop to your knees and thank God for his grace as you extend it to yourself and your family.

You click on these posts because you want to be a better parent. That’s commendable. You’re not likely to find the answers here, or anywhere on the web. Listen to your kids, pray about it, ask a trusted friend who actually knows your family. Don’t let a woman you’ve never met (like maybe me) tell you that you aren’t up to par. Chances are, her kids need therapy too.

Until next time, keep calm and mama on!

(PS. I do realize this whole post is slightly hypocritical. You don’t have to pay attention to me. Isn’t that great?!)