Enjoy The Chaos Because Parenting Is Not About Strong Opinions
By Yasmine Abbasakoor
PHOTO © Pinningnarwhals/Twenty20
Dec 31, 2018
A friend — a compassionate, funny father of three — and I were chatting about my gig with the CBC. I told him it’s hard to write poignantly without being divisive. I said I couldn’t voice strong opinions about parenting without alienating people. He smartly replied, “Parenting isn’t about strong opinions." I realized he was right and instantly told him I’d be stealing that line — thanks, Dan!
So how do we make parenting our own when nothing we do seems to matter?
I’m a stand-for-something gal. Strong opinions were kind of my thing. But parenting has cured me of that (as much as a know-it-all jackass can be cured of anything). The moment you decide you’re going to raise your kid a certain way, your child will tell you differently — often with screams instead of words. Sometimes by pooping on the floor.
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We’re merely guides for these little ones, we can’t change who they are. You know this already though, don’t you?
You swore you’d only do breast milk and then it all dried up and your baby was totally fine, they maybe even preferred formula. (Oh, please let someone comment about how dried-up breast milk is a myth, PLEASE?)
You swore you’d never let your kid sleep in your bed, then you were tired and it’s cozy and what are you, a monster? Now your kid is the best sleeper in the world and everyone is happy.
You swore they would try every food at least once and you pushed and pushed, but unlike Sam-I-Am, you gave up at “on a train” because you have a life to live and who even wants to try everything once? Do you?
You swore you’d never let your kid sleep in your bed, then you were tired and it’s cozy and what are you, a monster?
If your first accommodated all your insanities (including, but not limited to: no noise, no toys, no fun, no mess, no fighting, no swearing, no sticks) then just wait for your second. In my parents’ case it took until me, their third, for them to realize they weren’t perfect parents, they were just lucky. My nickname was “screaming meanie."
Don’t ever deign to write an article about parenting and put it out in the world. Within moments of hitting send, you’ll realize (of course) that you changed your mind and you’ll never spoil your kids again. You’ll also wish you had the gumption to reply to the nasty commenter that kids these days are not huffing paint, they’re doing much more dangerous things — none of which are your fault, by the way, thank you very much.
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So how do we make parenting our own when nothing we do seems to matter? You could be rigid and stick to your toy guns. You’ll be lonely on the playground — and you might need one of those buddy benches — but you’ll have a set of beliefs you can hold on to. Beliefs you’ll never be able to prove definitively are working. Is it worth it? I’ll voice a strong opinion here and say no, it’s not worth it.
Then what CAN we do knowing there’s nothing we can do? First, we can accept our past and future hypocrisies, and be gracious and do the same for others.
We can accept our failures and try again. Things change week to week, month to month, year to year.
We can have empathy for people losing a tantrum battle in public — try an “I’ve been there” and a smile as you walk past.
Finally, and most importantly, we can enjoy the chaos. We can jump on board. When it doesn’t go your way, find the beer garden. Mollify them with a popsicle and have a pint while you start working on your next strategy. Which, like all of the others, is destined to fail.
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