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 thinkpieces 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 hard-line 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.