Mother’s day is this weekend and in honour of that I thought I’d talk about a few of the ways in which I’m totally f***ing up as a mom to my three-year-old daughter. Why? I guess because I want you to know that if you feel like you’re f***ing up sometimes too, you’re in good company (I consider myself good company).
Before I had a kid I thought I’d do the complete opposite of these things. Because the parenting “experts” (a pretty arbitrary conceit sometimes in a world that has had parents as long as it’s had people) say they’re terrible. Fast forward to today and it hasn’t exactly worked out as I planned. What can I say? I suck.
Here are five ways I’m totally f***ing up as a parent according to many “experts:”
My kid still sleeps with me (or us when my husband feels like hanging with the crowd). When I tried getting her to sleep on her own she used to cry until she puked, so that wasn’t going to work out. Some sleep “doula” actually told me – for $250 – that my four-month-old daughter cried because up until that point she had been “getting everything she wants.”
“OF COURSE SHE IS GETTING EVERYTHING SHE WANTS,” I screamed (in my head). “SHE’S FOUR MONTHS OLD!” Seriously, that woman was deranged.
Now my daughter is three years old and we haven’t found a smooth way to transition to her her own bed yet. I think she feels safe and happy but I’m apparently just lazy and dooming her to a life of crippling codependency and sleep problems.
My kid goes to bed way too late. Usually 10:30. Everyone else’s kids are in bed by like 8:00 but I don’t know how anyone accomplishes that. I finish my workday at 5:30 and by the time we make and eat dinner, It’s 8:30. She still needs a bath and then I want to spend some time with her. I know wanting to have “adult time” in the evenings is a thing but I didn’t have her until I was 41 so I’ve had enough “adult time.” And there will be plenty more I’m sure when she’s older and doesn’t want to spend all her time with me.
I did try an 8:30 bedtime for a few months, by the way, and she’d just stay up in bed tossing and turning until 10:30. She’s a night owl. This is not a battle I want to choose.
My kid gets up way too late: Of course she doesn’t get up until nine because she needs to get enough sleep. I like this arrangement because on weekdays I can work undisturbed in the mornings and on weekends I can sleep in. I’m told that this is the norm in Europe but according to North American parenting experts, for some reason I don’t understand, it’s much better for everyone if your child is up by five am every Saturday.
My kid gets too much screen time. Of course I thought before I had a kid that I would limit screen time to next to none but there is STUFF THAT NEEDS DOING and Dora The Explorer and Clifford the Big Red Dog are the best way to ensure she’s not grabbing knives out of the dishwasher and systematically unfolding the freshly folded laundry.
And yeah, OK, Dora is teaching her that she can change the world by yelling at the screen, so basically to watch TV like a grumpy old man, which can’t be good. But other than that she seems fine. She’s starting to read, and I’m told she has a great vocabulary and uses very sophisticated conjunctions for someone her age. If you believe the experts, though, this is all just masking the fact that her brain is basically liquefying and is going to run out her ears.
My kid’s diet is about 70% macaroni and cheese. I always thought I’d be a “You eat what we eat or you don’t eat” parent but I’m not going to starve my kid just because she’s a picky eater. Good for you if your kid’s favourite food has been curry since he was six months old – information that you will somehow manage to disguise as a humble brag — but my kid hates curry. She likes mac and cheese. A LOT.
I keep telling her “You’re going to turn into a big macaroni and cheese!” and secretly I’m worried that this is true. But she actually seems pretty robust so far, something I do not take for granted.
I beat myself up over these things on the regular basis, but you just watch: 20 years from now “experts” will suddenly decide sleeping with your mom until you’re five makes you more likely to win Nobel Prizes and children who eat nothing but mac and cheese have healthier immune systems and better social lives. Because that’s how the cycle of scientific discovery works. Or so I understand it.
Then I’ll be the smug one. Just you wait.