Being an unexceptional parent (and housekeeper)

Hey all you perfect parents out there, stop reading now. I mean, you can keep reading if you want, but your minds will be dripping with judgement by the end of my blog, so just save yourself the time and know that I’m not perfect. I’m unexceptional, actually. You can skip to the end and comment how much better you are than me.

Also, if your kids are perfect, you should probably do the same because your disillusionment will guide your judgement of what I’m about to write.

Anyway, all of you regular, mediocre parents, this is for your eyes only. We are the parents that know it’s not okay for our children to be watching more than an hour of TV but put on a movie so we can take a nap. Oh yes, I’ve done it and I’ve woken up to crayon covering my wall or crackers crushed up in the couch cushions. But guess what- it was a great freakin’ nap!

We also all know that a happy meal every now and then probably won’t make our kids obese and mac-n-cheese is always (and I mean always) better from the box. The blue one. And it’s worth the extra $.50 for Spongebob.

Ironical, I know, since I don’t allow the girls to watch the show, mainly because it annoys the heck out of me, but mainly because I’m convinced it makes kids dumb. I feel my braincells escaping my head every time I hear that laugh. I will say, though, that sometimes it’s okay to let your kids watch something that isn’t 100% educational. It’s okay to have an activity that does not enrich their minds. It’s all a matter of balance. What’s not okay, though, is feeding your child filth. I’ve seen people let their kids play video games that make me blush or watch movies that are intended for adults’ eyes only. Don’t do what’s easiest when it comes to your child’s innocence. Once that’s gone, there’s no turning back.

Speaking of innocence. It’s also really important to be honest with your kids. I say it’s okay to lie about Santa and the Easter Bunny and all that jazz, but don’t give them a false sense of entitlement. Us sort-of-good parents know that making your child feel like they are the best at everything is going to set them up for some serious let down later in life. It will also make them realize that you were lying to them- not something you want to explain… “Oh yeah, I knew you sucked at singing, but you were so into it, I couldn’t break your heart!” after the entire audience booed them off stage after their first performance. A simple, “Wow, singing is definitely fun, let’s do that at home.” or “Wow, you can’t carry a tune, but let’s sing it again!” Catch my drift? They all sting, but hearing it from a few people is better than an auditorium.

Oh yeah, don’t forget to forget to clean your house. Seriously, I envy all you people who keep a perfectly tidy house and follow your children with a Clorox wipe disinfecting everything. You’re great. But my house is in constant disarray. Sometimes I have the choice of cleaning or pooping, and guess what I choose? When the housework becomes such a stressor that it makes you miserable, you have to let it go. You have to be okay with chaos. If you’re happy to pick up Cheerios and fold laundry (pfft what a waste of time!) 24/7, more power to you! Come on over after. But I know that when I am worried about the cleanliness of my house, I don’t worry about other things that matter (like my bowel movements).

My children play and they play hard. And they play in the main areas of the house. That means they leave stuff everywhere. I mean everywhere. I do, however, stop them every now and then and ask them to put their stuff away because when people walk into my house, I don’t want them to feel like they’re in a toy maze. But, soon enough, they’ll be locking themselves in their room to get away from me. Enjoy stepping on that damn Lego because soon you will be yelling “Turn that garbage down!” over their poor taste in music and “Open up your door this instant!” You will miss the days they were in your hair and wanted to be where you are. Lego’s aren’t so bad, when you think about it.

Speaking of yelling, I yell at my kids. There I said it. I feel much better now. I don’t scream at them constantly and I don’t call them names… but sometimes, we need to express how passionate or how important something is, and for me, it’s the only way. Other times, we’ve simply had it up to our eyeballs with whatever they’ve decided to continue doing after we’ve told them AT LEAST 53 times to stop doing.

We are allowed to be frustrated. Sometimes my frustration level is so high, that a PG-13 word slips out of my mouth. I’m sure they hear worse on the school ground, but the guilt eats me to no end. So, when I say it, I apologize and let them know that I was wrong. I want them to see forgiveness and humility, not fake emotion.

My husband and I also don’t always hide our disagreements from our kids. Sometimes they need to see how adults interact, even if it isn’t as maturely as we want it to be. This goes back to human emotion and humility. I also don’t hide when I apologize or admit that I was wrong (even though that never happens). I think it’s great when adults and children interact in the same universe. Sometimes, though, there are conversations that need to wait for privacy- we just have to weigh out the difference.

While we want to protect our kids from every wile out there, we can’t protect them from their universe. It’s important to talk about the goings on of the world with them. It’s necessary to watch the news, no matter how gruesome it can be. It’s vital to teach them that there is true evil out there and their only defense is themselves. Their morals, their virtues. Their innocence is real, but better to hear it from you than others with an agenda.

Finally, don’t be afraid of judgement. I have to read this one a few times. I’m always afraid of what others are thinking, and I’m not sure why. I’m not sure why, in the society that we live in, that I feel I have to hide what I do as a parent from others. I don’t know why I feel the need to justify my actions to people I don’t even know. Sometimes, I do what’s easiest and I feel guilty about that. I feel like I need to go into detail describing every choice I make. But strangers will ask, “Are you nursing?” or “Did you circumcise him?” Sometimes they will even give you unwarranted advice, “You need to cut all of her pacifiers” or “Just let her run around naked for a week, she’ll potty train” or even “You’re spoiling him by holding him all the time.” That one really pisses me off.

I guess the biggest question/ comment/ suggestion from above that strangers (and friends and family) feel the need to judge on is nursing. I’m always quick to explain that I’m exclusively pumping and it becomes an uncomfortable conversation about my flow, supply, and all that jazz. I honestly feel that I need to share that info. It’s ludicrous. It’s absolutely crazy that I feel the need to look at the stranger next to me while I feed my baby breast milk out of the bottle and tell them that it is, in fact, breast milk. I fear that people are looking at me like I’m a bad mom because I don’t want to whip my boob out in public to prove that I’m on the ‘breast is best’ train. (All you moms who do that, though, BRAVO! in my yelling voice.) While others deal with the opposite- “How dare she breastfeed in Starbucks?” (While in the mean time, Rhianna is walking down the red carpet, nipples to the wind.) And not to mention that poor mother who says, “No, I’m feeding with formula,” and gets disapproving stares from people who she doesn’t even know. Enough already.

I get that people are trying to be helpful, but in this world of judgement, sometimes we all just need to reply, “That’s a private matter between my family and I,” or stand up and say, “We are mediocre parents, and that’s okay.” We need to be us because the more we try to fit ourselves into the Stepford mold, the more we are doing our kids a disservice. We are teaching them that perfection is attainable and that others should influence our choices. While I think it’s necessary to be educated and informed, sometimes we just need to go with our gut. We need to do what works for us and our family, even if that means formula for the baby, dirty dishes in the sink, paci’s until they’re 3, and potty training for a year. We all need to balance what’s easy and what’s best for our kids. It’s okay to be okay.

Claire Pelletier

About Claire Pelletier

I'm 30. Boy am I 30. I have three children: Shelby (almost 8), Harper (3), and Aidan (1). I work full time as an English teacher, full time as a mom, part time as a wife, part time as a cook at a Diner (this is actually a paid position), and a per diem house cleaner. Basically, I do it all. Oh and I like to write (revert back to my full time teaching position). This life is crazy, people are even crazier, and online blogging has given me a voice. Some may think it's a loud and obnoxious voice, but I kind of like it. I do my best to write about things that interest people, mainly about myself. Sometimes I verge into the political land, but that place scares me, so I mostly write about every day things that make me laugh, cry, or scream. Thanks for reading!