Let Me Give You Some Advice...
So, having discussed the utter trickiness of delivering parenting advice and how it is rarely, if ever, appreciated by anyone, I’ll just go ahead and give you some. But I’m pretty much certain about this one. Here it is.
Try really, really hard not to judge other mothers. (I was going to say parents, but I suspect that ninety percent of you reading this are mothers, and truthfully, that mothers do seventy-six percent or so of the judging.)
Likewise, never, but never, compare yourself to other moms, favorably or otherwise. Otherwise will only depress you, and favorably will come back to bite you. That snippet of their life you see doesn’t tell their story. The mom whose child is wildly inappropriately dressed for the weather? You don’t know how long she attempted to force him into the appropriate coat/hat/swim suit/snow suit before she decided that this just wasn’t the hill she wanted to die on. The mom yelling at her kid in the grocery store and then attempting to subdue him with gummy bears – well, that was probably me. The beautifully groomed, toned and multi-nanny-ed movie star who goes on record as saying, “Wow, parenting isn’t as hard as I thought it would be! And it was so easy to get my figure back, really, you just have to eat right and exercise, and in the meantime, I’ve started up my own line of organic baby clothes!” Her, I want to judge just a little bit. But I probably shouldn’t.
The mother who works outside of the home, the mother who doesn’t work outside of the home, the mother who hasn’t spent an evening away from her children in three years, the mother who spends every second weekend in Vegas, the mother who feeds her child solely organic vegan fare, the mother whose kids subsist mostly on mac and cheese and will literally gag on and spit out anything green (oh, wait, me again). Each has a story as legitimate and compelling and fully rounded as ours, and I’m guessing their child is as likely to turn out as well-adjusted as ours, whether we see them in their finest moments or their sorriest. I’m fairly sure the judging we all – most? – at least I do, as much as I try not to, gets us nowhere at all. Certainly it doesn’t get us anywhere good.
My one other piece of seriously valuable parenting advice that I will stand behind, regardless of whom it may offend, is that the very best baby wipes come from Costco.
Peryl Manning is a freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom. She juggles her boys, her writing and her volunteer work with varying degrees of success, and is convinced of only one certainty: Parenting is really, really challenging. Her blog, Parenting ad Absurdum, is featured in the Seattle Post Intelligencer.