So, late last night I was over at the fabulous Snoo & Me's blog reading about her parental inferiority complex. Now, I for one, feel that Snoo's Mummy has little to worry about when it comes to her abilities as a mother and what she is doing for and giving too her child. She has already done the most important and scary thing - removing Snoo from a dangerous influence, taking her where she and her Mummy will be safe. Anything after that is a bonus. I have no doubt though that Snoo will grow up a balanced child who is a credit to her mother and proud of her to boot.
I want to assure Snoo's Mummy (who is a fab twitter buddy of mine!) that I think she is doing a wonderful job, and that she must rest assured, she is not alone in feeling she is an inferior parent at times.
Right now, for instance, as I write this, Ethan is sat on the sofa with nothing but Charlie and Lola on the iPad for company. That is digging into my subconscious.. only the week I made a promise to Ethan in my "this week baby I promise..." post that I wouldn't blog when he is awake/with me. Here I am breaking that promise!! Sometimes though, you just need to get a few thoughts up. I would write it down in my blog notepad but I'm afraid these days I am far far faster at typing than writing by hand (oh, long lost skill, that used to give me hard skinned fingers!!). So, blogging it is. I'll make up for it later when we do some baking.. At least we've read books together this morning!!
Anyway, where was I.. Every single parent I speak too feels inferior at times. Probably every day! It does seem to be the chattel around the neck of the mother more than the father.. unless the father is of the stay at home variety. I don't wish to be sexist here!! I think it is more common in women though.. I do feel we grow up learning to question and doubt ourselves more than men do. But this isn't the time for a feminist debate. I know I feel inferior all the time. I think it is partly my personality, a way I've always been, but I think being the chief carer for a child makes you question yourself more. After all, you are responsible for a person! Someone who will form the next generation of this country. The politicians, teachers and parents of tomorrow.. need I go on? That's a heavy weight on anyone's shoulders...
What do I feel inferior about? Well, I am one of those annoying people who keeps a clean and tidy house I'm afraid. I like it that way and I have built in routines into my day that make it relatively easy to keep the house neat and tidy with minimum effort. So.. I don't have to worry about that too much. But you know what? When people see my tidy house, I feel they judge me and find my parenting skills lacking. After all, how can I maintain such a house and give adequate attention to my child? Perhaps they are right. I hope not. I can only parent to the best of my ability. Yes, I spend time cleaning but I always stop what I'm doing regularly, check Ethan's ok. If I can, I get him to join in with me, pretend to vac whilst I am, or giving him a duster.. But then in the evening I'll go online, check facebook, twitter, blogs.. and see what all the other Mummy's (and sometimes Daddy's!) have been up to with their children and it always seems to be loads of baking and crafting.. and then it gets me. I doubt myself. I feel I have taught Ethan nothing all day.. That I've not stimulated him enough. I'm not getting at all the parents who do these things. I think it's wonderful. When I hear them say their house is a tip, I think, yes, maybe it is, and mine might be tidy.. but I bet you were a better parent today. Woe!
It's a strange society we live in today. With all the media and technology today, we are constantly sharing ourselves with the world, and yet many of us often feel more alone than ever before. For most of us, the extended family units we would have lived in 50-100 years ago are gone.. Of course, they started to be eroded by the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.. but they could still be found not so long ago. In years past we would have all lived within walking distance of close family, most likely, and the support network would have been right there with us. These days most of us have an online support network, which whilst invaluable and without doubt very useful, isn't quite the same. It's not quite as validating I feel.. It's easy to read the wrong message. It's easy to see only what people choose to share with the world. In many cases it's only the best bits (I know this isn't always true.. I know many of us bloggers are happy to share our dark side!). All this can make parenting very hard. You feel constantly judged and exposed yet lonely.
The news pump out stories every day. Conflicting advice and stories which always seem to tell us what we are doing wrong as parents today. We evaluate everything we do.. We can't just be allowed to get on with it and parent as we choose.. There is always some "expert" who just can't wait to tell us why exactly our baby won't sleep or how my TV our toddler should watch. Why do we care what they think? They aren't living our life with our particular child. Every parenting book I have ever picked up and flicked through has made me feel like utter crap for days afterwards. The only books I have ever read all the way through and made me feel good were the ones written by Naomi Stadlen (I heartily recommend you read these!). I think all these outside influences leave us questioning our every move. In the past we would have just got on with it!! Our mothers and their mothers before them had a much harder time with the housework.. none of the mod-cons we have now!! I imagine their babies spent hours playing on the floor under their feet whilst they got on with it, not having any choice but to get on with it... and hours out in the pram whilst the mothers did the shopping. There wouldn't have been time for much else!! These days it seems most of us feel we have to have an hour by hour itinery of activities for our child.. and if we don't.. we are failures!!
These "super parents" we all think about don't exist... or if they do, it's with a great deal of help and probably money behind them.
The rest of us just have to do the best we can. I think we are all doing a pretty good job actually. Only a few parents truly neglect our children. Yes, Ethan is watching a fair bit of Charlie and Lola today, but we're going to do some baking later, we'll take his bike out this afternoon as it looks like a nice day and by the end of the day he'll have had about 10 books read to him. And three meals in his belly. Yes, some of that will probably be baked beans and jam sarnies, but he's happy! This is whilst we both have our 5th colds of the winter as well.. so it's not surprising we're inside a lot!
We all judge. We all do it. I think parents can be their own worst enemy. Let's be gentler with each other.
Happy Valentines day! That's my bit of love for the day... I'm not passing out cards or some flowers that will be dead in a week! Have a virtual hug instead!