The pointy end of parenting

Muffin-tin meal Claire-style

Muffin-tin meal Claire-style

I know anxiety is scratching at my door when the Perfect Mom Blogs start affecting me. I don’t need to see this shit about muffin-tin meals and crafternoons that people put up in some wack Pinstagrammed version of real life. No one is doing that stuff all the time (unless they’re paid to, surely!?). Ignore, ignore, ignore. And yet, some of the ideas are great, so I keep on clicking through…

But sometimes I reach a sort of critical mass when it all gets too much and I start feeling inadequate and grumpy. Because I don’t WANT to do all that stuff, most of it is just silly bits from the pointy end of parenting, or should I say motherhood (are any dads doing this stuff?). The 2% – where it’s like, the kids are fine, smart, happy, well fed and, by dint of their lucky, lucky birth, in the top 5% of the world’s wealthiest people anyway. And we’re also white. And (in my kids’ case) male. So, basically: life’s birth lottery won, and rest-of-life odds stacked massively in our favour.

And then there’s this final 2% of parenting where you’re not meant to say “good job” you’re meant to say “I’m impressed by how hard you tried” or some bullshit, just to tweak out any final flaws and ensure these perfect human specimens who are happy and obedient, but not too obedient (because they need to be able to say “no” to drugs and bad sex when they’re 15 – or something). And so they’ll always know that we love them unconditionally but what about when we sort of hate them because it really REALLY is time to turn off the TV and come to dinner now, and I just stubbed my toe on your toy while trying to get you to come to the table, you ungrateful little twerp. And they say “No” again and you just feel so much rage because you’re tired and they’re always undermining you and, and, and… And then they finally do the thing you want and then the love comes flooding back. I mean, that’s not unconditional love is it? Maybe it still is.

And you know what? The kids are fine. But they’re going to end up with a bundle of neuroses and insecurities, and feeling like they’re unlovable and getting too drunk and having bad sex and getting underage tattoos no matter what probably because: teenagers. And they are people and that’s what people do. And so they should. Or else there would be no art, no music, no writing, no politics, no cars, no iPhones, no science, no moany blog posts, no geography, no online reviews of mountaintop jacuzzis, no poetry, no love. No progress, no devolution, no society, no me, no you.

I am actually secretly worried that we’re yet to see the first generation of “gently parented” kids attain adulthood. I mean, what if by never raising our voices, we’re raising a generation of empathetic monsters who are so mutually understanding of each others’ boundaries and stuff that all that art, culture, politics and taxi drivers just disappears into one big puddle of polite political correctness (gone mad)? Nah. You know it won’t happen because, as I said. We’re people. They’re people. They will grow up no matter what we do. Even if they end up crying to a counsellor one day about the interminable crafternoons of their childhood… The kids are alright. And I guess I am too.

This post is dedicated to all my mum friends who don’t think they’re doing enough. You are. X

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6 comments

  1. I’m a big fan of gentle parenting but I don’t think we’re meant to be 100% perfect. A child needs some challenges at home, how else will they cope with it later on. Back in London when I used to work in the parenting circus, we always referred to the ‘good enough mother’ from W.D. Winnicott, meaning it’s ok and healthy not to be perfect. When I start to question myself, it’s always because I’m stressed out and because I need a good break, as in a proper holiday.

    1. I hear you! I do try to do “good enough” parenting always but sometimes it’s hard. Unfortunately, I don’t feel like there are any proper holidays when the kids are young… maybe once the grandparents arrive next month! 🙂 🙂

  2. Oh my goodness, you got me! I was kind of hoping for a muffin tin post, cause they are just so cute. Sort of like modern day fairy tales for women. Once upon a time there was a mommy who was baking cupcakes with sprinkles and cutting smiley faces into her kids’ apples,…

    When I was 15 or 16 years old I attended a lecture on how to prevent your teens from getting into drugs. Don’t ask me how I ended up there, among 40-50 something parents.

    What I remember is what the lady who was speaking to us bascially said: teach your kids right and wrong, teach them common sense, keep communication open so they can always come to you with their worries, and let them practice to say no – even though it’s incoventient for you at times 😉

  3. Sometimes I think I should be taking photos of my kids’ tantrums, screaming fits, stubborn episodes, etc, so i have a record of the whole spectrum of parenting – not just the good happy times. I don’t want to be one of those parents who forgets just how hard it is to be at home with small ones, and tells people in the supermarket to “cherish this time”. Keep on keepin it real Claire. And NO there are definitely no holidays with small children. Basically it’s full on all the time until the youngest is 5 at LEAST. I’m not there yet, but I’m hoping for miracles next year 😉

  4. This was so refreshing to read! I can totally relate. I think we have a lot of great information out there these days about how to parent and sometimes it’s actually too much because it feeds into our anxieties about how we have to do it perfectly. But we don’t and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about the bad days, but instead make sure we are meeting our own needs too. I’ve learnt recently to let things slide and just be an ‘average’ one but a happy one!

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