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I spent my lunch break yesterday driving across town to pick up these little bug-catchers I ordered as favors for my younger daughter’s birthday party. I also stayed up late the night before helping my older daughter with her homework while simultaneously baking coconut brownies for teacher appreciation week.
I don’t say any of this to be a martyr. I like doing this stuff. I have no problem with my daily schedule.
What I have a problem with is the nonstop think pieces that keep coming across my interwebz suggesting that I am doing too much, doing it wrong, making other parents look bad. Or, alternately, that I should be doing more or doing it differently or that I am somehow being negligent by letting my 10-year-old walk to a friend’s house or letting my almost-5-year-old bathe alone (with the door open and with frequent check-ins from me).
In my world, we don’t do Elf on the Shelf. We have never been to Disney as a family, and if we ever do go, I definitely will not have coordinating monogrammed Disney-themed outfits for every day for all of us. I don’t make fun landscapes out of vegetables.
But if that stuff makes you happy, you’re not going to hear a word of judgment from me.
Meanwhile, I did extended breastfeeding, cloth-diapering, co-sleeping, and baby-wearing. I once hand-wrapped more than 100 mini-candy bars with personalized paper for a birthday party and just about lost my mind over Ruby’s infamous Hulk and Candy party. I have been room mother every year Ruby has been in school.
But if none of that stuff makes you happy, I would never judge you for not doing it.
I’m too busy doing me to worry about you doing you, OK?
In truth, I don’t follow any kind of real parenting philosophy. I’ve read a bunch of parenting books, and taken a few pieces of good advice from all of them, but really, I just do a hodgepodge of whatever works for me at any given moment.
I feed my kids junk food, send them to private school, and work outside of the home. I let them watch YouTube. We don’t have really strict bedtimes. I had one non-optional C-section and one that I probably could have avoided. I help my older daughter with homework a lot – I don’t do it for her, of course, but I do sometimes guide her: “I bet you can find the answer on page 149” or “Take one more look at No. 9, boo.” I always help quiz her the night before big tests; I drill her on times tables and listen to her read out loud if she’s having trouble concentrating on her required reading. I love making cookies or brownies for special occasions and sending them to school. I yell too much. Messy bedrooms don’t really bother me. I’m OK with baths every other day as long as underwear gets changed. I let my kids eat in the car. I curse in front of them. I’m fanatical about bike helmets but don’t care at all about organic food. My older daughter has had a cell phone since she was 7. But you know what? NONE OF THIS AFFECTS ANYONE ELSE!!!
(I make an exception for my hardline stance on vaccinations because not vaccinating your kids does affect other people.)
To just use the birthday party as an example, I have been to great birthday parties where the parents sent out artisan-crafted invitations; made incredible cakes from scratch (including practice cakes in the weeks leading up to the party); and handed out thoughtful, time-intensive favors that followed the party’s theme. And I have been to great birthday parties where the parents texted me a couple of nights before, served beer and Popeyes and cake from the Rouses bakery, and sent us on our merry way with a balloon.
I don’t want anyone to stop having elaborate birthday parties. I don’t want anyone to stop having casual birthday parties.
What I want is an end to the mommy wars and the judgment.
Excerpted from Eve Crawford Peyton’s blog, Joie d’Eve, which appears each Friday on MyNewOrleans.com.