As much as we all like to say we’re not judgmental, let’s all come together to confess right here and now that we all judge one another. It’s a human race thing. I know it thrives in our DNA to rip each other’s morals, values and ethics to shreds and pat ourselves on the back for doing everything perfect. We certainly wouldn’t be doing the things we do if we didn’t think they were the right way.
I have noticed, especially recently as my daughter gets a bit older, I seem to be a bit of an unconventional parent. And I know we all know that we are the best fucking parents ever to have lived! But seriously, parents judge one another so harshly because, let’s face it, it’s the toughest job known to mankind to be a parent. There’s no training manual for it, there’s no salary involved, and we are literally creating human beings, trying to raise them the best we know how without completely fucking them up. So, we become one another’s worst critics on how not to turn these little humans into drug dealers and prostitutes.
Judging one another certainly doesn’t get us anywhere with the whole solidarity thing, but because I know it’s what we do, I offer you some of the ways you can judge me as a parent…
- For pulling her out of school often to do fun things: So, there’s this thing called life that passes us by while we’re all working our asses off 50-60 hours a week and if we’re missing out on life, our kids are, too, in some ways. When I was young, my dad worked a gazillion hours a week, however, there was never any shortage of awesome memories. My parents used to take me out of school for about 3 weeks a year for vacations. They were never extravagant, usually just to see family or take a week at a lake, but it was time together. Honestly, it could have been at the hotel down the street for all I cared. It was a change of scenery. Yes, kids needs structure, absolutely, but I’m that parent that plans a quick weekday getaway (in advance so school work can be attended to) just so she can see that on the other side of all of this work, there’s fun. Life is too short. Childhood goes much too fast to not let my daughter see that work is a necessary part of life that allows us to also have fun. And no, I don’t plan on wavering on this as school gets more difficult. As long as she’s pulling decent grades, I’ll probably allow her even more time off.
- For not raising her with organized religion: This is a big one and I could probably write an entire chapter on this. Let me start by saying, I recognize that organized religion works for many, many families and I think that’s amazing and wonderful. Faith is an integral component of life. I get that, however, it looks different for all of us. I am agnostic and her father is an atheist. I’m just as firm in my agnostic beliefs as others are in their religion. And that’s ok. I don’t believe I’m going to hell, just as other believe I will. I have respect for others beliefs, just as I will have respect for what my own child believes.
Religion played a role in my life as a child and I arrived at my own belief system by simply growing up and living, not by what was shoved down my throat. I hope she will do the same, minus having to navigate through what was shoved down her throat. Personally, I have just been privileged to entirely too much hypocrisy within that space, within the church. It certainly doesn’t make sense for me to tell my child what to believe when I don’t own those beliefs myself.
I do not turn my child away from religion or fail to acknowledge more mainstream, traditional beliefs. She attended a Catholic pre-school and she attends a Methodist summer camp, so she’s deriving a general understanding of Christianity. She has enjoyed learning about the bible, and I’m so glad she’s getting that exposure. However, now that she’s 7, I’m cognizant of incorporating other religions into conversation and I’m beginning to have open discussions about how different people believe different things about God, Jesus, and what religion means to them. Here’s what she knows for now: love and kindness are our religion. That should be the basis of any religion anyway, right?
- For not pushing her to play sports: I had her try soccer, gymnastics, tee ball, and flag football…all between the ages of 3-7. The rule was, if I signed her up for the season, she had to finish it but if she didn’t like it, she didn’t have to sign up again. And exactly that has happened with each sport. Listen, I’m not going to ruin my Saturdays and any other practice day during the week so I can push her to do something that’s supposed to be fun, yet hearing her bitch all of the while about how hot and sweaty she is, asking how much longer until it’s over. Not worth it for either of us. I will admit, I wanted her to latch onto a sport, and maybe she still will, but it hasn’t happened yet. If this isn’t the way she expresses herself and isn’t something she enjoys then I’m fine with that. Something will be her thing eventually.
- For not limiting her screen time: to my last point, right now her thing is YouTube Minecraft videos and some extremely boring game called Slither.iO or some shit. She likes gaming and she like Legos. Those are her most creative outlets for now. Of course I monitor what she’s watching and I do make sure she’s exercising at least one hour a day but if she wants to sit on her iPad for an hour…or two…or six- no problem. This also allows me some time to do a load of laundry or clean the house a bit. It’s a sanity saver a lot of the time and to be honest, she tends to self regulate her usage. She’s never sat on a device for an absurd amount of time. Like anything, she gets bored and moves onto the next thing within an appropriate amount of time. I might know way too much about Dan TDM and RoBlox but hey, it could be much worse and she could still be watching Stampy Longnose.
- For not doing more than the recommended reading homework: School has become a bit of a different beast than what it was when I was young and I’ll just say it: I think it’s bullshit how our children are being pushed beyond what I consider normal limits. The tests, the homework, the Common Core shit that very few of us as parents can understand…it’s too much. The work she was completing at the end of 1st grade was that of a 3rd grader in my day. What was wrong with the way we did it? Yes, I’m sounding old, but seriously, what’s with the intensity these days? Why not play more, homework less? All of this pushing and testing cannot even be proven effective by research so why should I push her beyond her limits? I love when she reads and wants to read. I certainly encourage it but if 20 minutes is her limit, fine. We are done and we are going for a bike ride.
- For allowing her to be her own person: No.Matter.What. My daughter doesn’t conform to gender norms. Never did and probably never will. She has been wearing boy clothes since she was 3 ½ years old, has only ever played with boys toys, likes being called a boy and gravitates towards boys as friends. And guess what? I don’t care. And neither should anyone else. I find it odd when people immediately proclaim her a tomboy or ask what I’ve done to “make her this way”. Y’all, she’s just who she is. I’m not making her any way. It’s not my choice to individualize her or choose her identity. Even if this wasn’t what makes her different, I’m open-minded to her just being her no matter what that looks like. I don’t need a label for her. She doesn’t need a label. She is just her.
I’m sure there’s more to judge about my parenting, like feeding my kid so much processed food that she will have a shelf life of hundreds of years, or that I tend to cuss around her quite a bit so the word “shit” doesn’t even remotely make her wide-eyed anymore. But, the thing is, we are all in this with the same end goal: raising humans we can be proud of. So, if my daughter ends up to be a devil worshiping, illiterate, deviant who doesn’t know how to be part of a team, I will be one proud mama. Ok, so not really, but I would have sure as hell tried my hardest to do what I felt was best for her.
Parenting is all about throwing shit against the wall to see what sticks. None of us have any concrete answers and there is no true right or wrong. Here’s to hoping the right components of what I’m throwing against the wall sticks.
And I’ll accept your judgment if you’ll accept mine. Solidarity in parenting, friends.