Friday, February 28, 2014

7x7 Post #5: Ranting About Ranting and Other Fun Tales

I came across this article yesterday. "Why do parents make parenting sound so God-awful?" is the subtitle. The author, a childless woman living in New Hampshire, makes a case against the "honesty" that has become popular on the Internet and in advertising. She cites several blog posts of well known mommy bloggers as well as this listicle as being responsible for making her "terrified" of having kids. Her Facebook feed "goes wild for this stuff" and her friends all agree with it, share it, and spread it around the universe like the deadly virus it clearly is.

I attempted to read it with an open mind. I don't think the article is intentionally offensive (more of a feel sorry for me tone), but for some reason I felt the need to defend myself. I don't really enjoy being lumped into a "pissed parent genre", even if I agree 100 percent with their "motto".

' "[A]s crazy as things get, I wouldn’t trade it for anything." '

On the connotations of all this horrifying parental babble, the article states:

“ ... apparently parents never get their houses clean, never have sex, never read books or have adult conversations, never shower, and never, ever have a moment to themselves. (Somehow they do find the time to blog.) "

Personally, I'm glad the parents I know aren't posting about their sex lives on Facebook. I would MUCH rather see a picture of an obnoxious toddler, thankyouverymuch.

Even if they did this to the bathroom.

Also, no one said "never" but you, Ms. Graham.

"Obviously a lot of this is hyperbole, for the sake of humor and self-deprecation and commiseration. The parents who write these posts get that. The parents who “like” these posts get that. And I get that ... But for me, a childless woman, the cumulative effect of all of this “honesty” is a growing sense of dread ... is it really “brave” when honesty is what’s getting the book deals these days?"

You may think this is all extravagant exaggeration, dear lady, but I can testify to all 31 of the things in the listicle that scared you shitake-less (also, why wouldn't you want to be a ninja?).

Parenting truly consists of the highest highs and lowest lows you can possibly imagine. It's kind of like being on a roller coaster all the time. I like roller coasters. If you don't, this is not the job for you.

That lady in the back is definitely not a fan.

I WISH I was making this stuff up for a book deal, believe me.

"Then there’s the fact that the parents writing these stories are, almost without exception, very capable women. These are not the “worst moms ever”; they are competent, loving parents who occasionally feel overwhelmed. They are parents who think and read and write about parenting. Almost by definition, they are doing just fine." 

ALL parents feel like they're failing at one point or another. Part of the reason so many of these blog posts are written is because it's cathartic. There are bad days and good days. And just like other humanoids, parents are much more likely to say something when things are tough than when they are going swimmingly.

 Parents have to stick together in their stinky un-showered states, ya know?

Moving on:

"Yet, culturally, we applaud their “bad” parenting while becoming less and less tolerant of actual bad parents. This is a country that is increasingly willing to prosecute pregnant women and young mothers for their mistakes with drugs, or for leaving their children home alone in moments of desperation."

So you want us to be tolerant of bad parents but not "bad" parents? I'm confused.

"In a middle-class parenting subculture in which self-acceptance is a bedrock virtue, it’s impossible not to notice a disconnect."

I'm pretty sure accepting your bad days is just as important as flaunting your good ones.

"If becoming a parent “changes everything,” as everyone says, then what is its promise to those of us who are already happy? If those changes are primarily terrible, as so many voices online seem to agree, then it had better have some serious joy to offer."

You'll never know if you don't try. If a few blog posts are enough to scare you away, you probably don't have the mental fortitude to deal with parenting. And if you don't want to give up your long baths and hours upon hours of consecutive sleep, then you should probably be seriously reconsidering your "desire" to become a parent.

As for the joy ...

"Is anyone writing about joy? Is there a way to do it without seeming obnoxiously smug or totally dishonest?"

I have, although whether it's obnoxious is your call. These kid conversations were pretty Hoover Dam funny. Here's another perk of parenting. Here's where I get all sappy (with only a little whining involved). Here's more sappiness. I think if you knew me or any of the other people you refer to in the article in real life you would have a better idea of what it's like to be a parent than if you base it on cherry-picked blog posts. You prove this point when you cite your friend who makes parenting seem wonderful. YEAH, GIRL. Because you KNOW her.

"And no one would ask parents not to talk about parenting on parenting blogs, or on their own Facebook pages. Parents, do what you need to do to get through the long, exhausting days! Commiserate away! It’s not your responsibility to promote the parenting brand."

"Do what you need to do. Except don't. Because it's scary and weird and I'd rather not know. Also, why did I write this in the first place?"

"But if you can manage it, consider occasionally sparing a thought for the nonparents among you who are eavesdropping on your online conversations: We’re over here, sleeping through the night, taking long quiet baths, and going out to eat on the spur of the moment. If you can find it in your full but weary hearts to pity us, try."

I do pity you, girl. Despite your vexacious article, I too remember what it was like to be on the cusp of parenthood. I have said numerous times I am SO GLAD I never have to be a first time mom again. It's scary stuff, no doubt about it. But is it scary because of the epic amounts of bodily fluids you will undoubtedly encounter? No.

It's scary because you realize how much you can love another person, even when they don't deserve it. It's scary because you're forced to reset your priorities. When a child is born, a parent is born, too. There's growing up to do. A lot of learning is involved. The experience is unrivaled by anything else. It's crazy, yes. But what makes it bearable? Love.

This is why other parents nod and cry and scream, "YES! I'm so totally there!" when they read about the trials of others in similar situations. They know there's a massive amount of affection involved in the dirty job that is raising another human being, despite the airing of literal and figurative dirty laundry.

And for the record, I got to shower yesterday morning; you do occasionally get to bathe.

Another thing - my kids aren't going to be tiny forever. They're not always going to be destroying my living room. I won't always be sleeping in three hours increments. This stage is temporary. The trade-off for the joy these tiny people bring to my life is totally and completely worth it.

So yes. "[A]s crazy as things get, I wouldn’t trade it for anything."

No really. It will be.

Children are exquisite mysteries. Usually dirty, sometimes stinky, always hilarious. And the secret to surviving it all?

(And sometimes rant-y blog posts.)

Thank you, Ruth Graham, for reminding me of that.
For links to the other bloggers participating in this challenge, click here.

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  1. You tell them Caiti! ((Clap)) ((Clap)) ((Clap))
    And you will see the rewards of being a parent, is becoming a grandparent!
    Spread the LOVE!!!!
    XO Nana April

    1. Thanks! My mom tells me grandparent-hood is wayyyy more fun. :)


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