Sunday, December 29, 2013

Congratulations are in order, not disapproval and unsolicited advice

Congratulations are in order, not disapproval and unsolicited advice!

My cousin recently found out she was pregnant with her fourth child, and she surprised us all with the news via a Smilebox online greeting she sent out on Christmas.  My cousin is immensely talented, and the Smilebox was a beautiful slideshow complete with a rhyming verse that delivered her news.  On the very last slide she told us all, "Congratulations were in order, not disapproval and unsolicited advice!"  I've never been so proud to call someone my friend in all my life.  I was thrilled for her, but more than anything, I applauded her for doing what so many parents dream of, but don't have the guts to do.  I really think my cousin could make a fortune selling maternity shirts with this sentiment printed boldly across the front.

We live in a society that pretty much condemns every parenting choice we make as wrong.  Women who breastfeed their children are often seen as nudists, who parade their bare breasts out in public for fun.  At the same time, we condemn the mother who chooses to feed her child formula because breast milk is obviously the healthier choice for every infant.  You just can't win.

If you vaccinate your child, you are asking for Autism, but if you don't, you are singlehandedly bringing back the measles.  

If you are a stay at home mom, you are lazy and don't earn your keep; whereas, working mothers are seen as callous woman who put their careers ahead of their children and prefer to let someone else raise them.

Heaven forbid you find yourself pregnant with a child you didn't plan on having after your marriage hit a rough spot or when your finances aren't completely in order.  Heaven help the poor woman holding a positive pregnancy test, who can barely keep up with the kids she's already got.  Surely her husband should've gotten a vasectomy years ago.

Frankly I'm sick of it.  I've decided to revise the definition of what it means to be a good parent.  

Here goes:

You are a good parent if you got out of bed this morning.  Trust me, I know it was tempting to just hide from the children under the covers all day, but you didn't.  You got up.  That makes you a good parent. 

Did you love your kids all day? Notice I didn't ask you if you liked them all day.  I'm guessing at some point today at least one of your kids did something that was highly unlikeable.  Did you handle it with love?  Tough love is okay.  Sometimes it's the best kind of love to give.  If you loved them all day, then you are an awesome parent.

Did you do the best you could for them all day?  Even if the best you could do was sitting on the couch next to them while they watched NickJr all day.  Raising children isn't easy.  As long as you did your best today, you're a great parent. 

Is your house still standing after your children played in it all day?  Then you're a great parent.  

The bottom line is you're a great parent.  Your kids love you, and look at how amazing they are!  Yeah, sometimes they act like little jerks, but sometimes you do too.  So what if the baby is sporting a mustache and a bald spot because your toddler got ahold of some gum and a sharpie while you were doing laundry.   You're still an amazing parent.  You loved your kids all day long.  That's all it takes to be a great parent.


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