The following is a guest post written by my wonderful, brilliant wife.
My wife said I can write a guest blog post, so here I am, blogging. Swiping my digital citizen passport and waltzing into the 21st century…
I asked Emma to lend me her blog so that I could write about an issue in the blogosphere that’s been really bugging me lately: Child Shaming.
For those who aren’t sure what that means, let me clarify. There’s a whole pile of blogs, Facebook Pages and books that exist to talk about how difficult it is to raise kids. They generally do it with a humorous bent—making jokes about the fact that you’ve read The Very Hungry Caterpillar 37 times in the last three days, or about the fact that their tiny person colored on the wall again, this time with permanent marker…but at least this time baby’s artwork is amusingly phallic. There’s an ever-growing collection of folks (mostly women) tapping away at their keyboards about all the absurdities of child-rearing.
I worry about the prevalence of these bloggers because I fear they send a unified message about parenting: BACK AWAY SLOWLY. Or, if it’s already too late for you: LIVE IN FEAR. THE WORST IS YET TO COME. Maybe it deters people from having kids (but let’s face it, those people who don’t have kids yet are reading something cool like PostSecret). But more tragically, it makes parents, especially new ones, see their children like evil Bernese Mountain Dog Puppies. Sure, it’s cute now, but wait until…
At least that’s what these blogs did to me. They made me laugh, sure, but they also made me worry about what would happen when my kid turned 1. And 2. And 3. Based on these blogs, I thought, this kid will be making me miserable for the rest of my life.
But it turns out, that’s not what really happened. My kid is hilarious. He’s fun. He makes me laugh. I can’t wait to get home from work to play cars/trains/read PJ Funnybunny…again. This evening, I practically ran in the door so I could see him before bedtime.
Is my kid annoying? Sure! He had a meltdown today when I told him it was time to put on pants. But he’s also sweet, funny and full of zest. He loves to learn. He’s curious, creative and wants me to be involved in his life. If I let those parenting blogs get into my head, I’d be missing an opportunity to “hide in the closet” (his favorite game) or listen to his sermon on the greatness of cows. And who wants to miss those fantastic moments?
You might think I want the bloggers to stop. I actually don’t. I think these writers fill an important niche in the world of “Parenting in the 21st Century.” They teach us something really valuable: that everyone is struggling because parenting is hard. Your two-year-old had a meltdown at Target? Yeah—so did that guy’s. Feeling guilty about working late? This kid wiped his poop on the wall to welcome his working mom home…at least you’re not her. We need these bloggers to remind us that we’re not alone out there and that our kids screw up. And we screw up, too.
So what I really want is this: I want parents (myself included) to be cautious consumers of their online reading material. Read that blog or that Facebook post. Laugh. But then take a deep, thoughtful breath before you look at your kid again. We cannot let other people—parents or not—convince us that our children are terrible. If we adopt this mindset, our kids will become what we believe them to be. The truth is that your kid is not a monster, out to ruin your life. What you have there is a child and what you are is a parent. And you are both awesome, whether you blog about it or not.