It’s so funny, sometimes it feels as though the whole world (or at least MY whole world) leans towards a kind of “group-think” and everything you see, say, hear and read leads you towards the same conclusions.
I work for myself now, and it can get pretty quiet at home on my own, so podcasts have become my officemates. Last week, I was listening to some TED talks while I ate my lunch and this one from Jennifer Senior came up. It crystallised something I’d been thinking for quite a while, and gave shape to my thoughts in a way that I struggled to articulate for myself.
Jennifer speaks about the difficulty of ensuring happiness for our kids, and how it’s a very lofty goal that really only came about in the last 20-30 years. How, in previous generations, the emphasis was different – on children as working members of the family, on the importance of productivity and kindness as markers of healthy children. She says we should think about teaching our children how to be kind, thoughtful of others, productive members of society, and hope that happiness comes as a by-product of being a good person, rather than from some level of self-excellence.
Then this morning, I read Belinda’s blog post on Imperfect Parenting, and that was when the “group-think” feeling hit. Belinda mentions her friend who dropped the ball on pajama day at school, how her kids were the only ones there in their usual clothes. She goes on to mention that she drops the ball on a weekly basis. Except I don’t think that’s fair.
Honestly, I’m 32 now, and I still have a fairly clear recollection of my childhood. I remember packed lunches and bathtime with my younger sister (we were kids, and it was fun.) But I don’t remember the times that the ball was dropped. There was less of an emphasis on this almost unattainable level of “perfect parenting” that we seem to want to reach now.
What I do, clearly, remember from growing up is when my parents – no, my dad, especially after he started single parenting – lost his shit when the ball was dropped. How he blamed everyone except himself (a personality trait that still exists today). And it is that that I will do my hardest to avoid.
I think what I’m trying to say is, we’ll all be happier – kids and parents, hell, people in general – if we relax the reigns a bit. If we try to be kinder to each other and kinder to ourselves. If we value kindness over other things, and try to teach acceptance, kindness and tolerance to out kids through the example we set with ourselves.
So although I am only 2 years into this parenting thing, I’m trying my hardest to be gentler on myself. Kinder to myself, and if the toddler lives on Flings one weekend, well, we’ll try to fit some veggies in next week. If I forget to pack something into his bag, it’s not the end of the world. There’s a lot of stuff to remember these days, and expecting yourself to keep track of everything is unrealistic. But getting mad with yourself or your child because you forgot something? Well, that’s just silly.
Let’s be kinder, ok?