The more I read and talk and think about parenting, the worse I feel. Even articles designed to make me feel better just . . . don’t make me feel better. In theory, the internet should make parenting easier. My trusty laptop has answers to any parenting question I might have, from “what is that rash?” to “when should my kid start dating?” There’s a parenting style (an corresponding internet faction) to match any personality or belief system. Instead of plodding along in my own parents’ footsteps, I can blaze my own trail and find my own answers.
Of course, quantity doesn’t guarantee quality, and by the time I wade through all the possible answers to “what is that rash?” it’ll either go away on its own or eat my child whole. According to the internet, rashes are usually a sign of rare and incurable disease. I should definitely see a doctor, or possibly a shaman. No matter what my question, there’s someone on the internet ready to swoop in and inform me I’m failing as a parent. And really, there’s no excuse for failure. Not when the perfect answers were just a click away.
I thought writing about parenting myself, getting my own voice out there, would make me feel better. I thought it would make me more considered, more surefooted. I thought that sorting and expressing my thoughts might make me less overwhelmed, but no. Not even a little bit.
Writing about parenting has made one thing perfectly clear–I’m a pretty mediocre parent. I’m painfully ordinary, with unremarkable opinions and hackneyed advice. I’m fat and my feet hurt and I’m not getting any younger. My basement’s a mess and I never quite finished raking the leaves from last fall. My kids are not gifted. They’d rather jump on my furniture than read, and I let them watch too much TV and eat too much candy because it helps me get dinner on the table and maybe even a moment to myself once in a while. Sometimes I yell at my kids. Sometimes they yell at me. Sometimes my valiant attempts to calmly reason with them sound a whole lot like lectures. Maybe someday my kids will be rich and/or famous, but they’re gonna be flipping burgers and following orders along the way, and I haven’t the faintest idea how to prepare them to follow orders as a line chef and give orders as a CEO.
If parenting really is a contest I’m not winning any medals.
And here’s the kicker: I’m okay with all that. At least, I was before the internet got in my head. Maybe we aren’t the best family out there but we’re getting by. We even like each other most of the time. Before I started comparing myself to the internet, that was enough. Before I made it my business to have parenting opinions, I was happy. All this access to advice and opinions is stressing me out, which is probably not helping my parenting.
Huh. Maybe I should get off the internet. But then where would I go for porn and cat pics?
Featured image by Junior Libby at publicdomainpictures.net