I’m tired of all of these mommy blogger posts about how I’m doing it wrong. Or how you’re doing it wrong. Or, really, when it comes down to it, how the blogger seems smugly sure they are doing it right.
It’s all pretty ridiculous. You’re just not. I’m not. Hell, they aren’t either, likely.
Here’s a pretty horrible idea, if you have enough time and energy to fight online about the best ways to raise kids, it’s likely your kids are going to do just fine. There’s a lot of privilege that comes along with that kind of time, and the statistics show that it’s privilege that makes “the difference” as far as a child’s future financial success.
There’s no one-size-fits-all that works. No two families that are the same. No two moms. No two dads. No two kids. No two job situations. No two financial situations. When you add up the strange arithmetic that is the equation of your parenting situation, it’s likely going to come up with a unique answer that works for you.
If you try to apply that answer to another parenting situation, it’s going to be a false sum. The numbers are different. The children are different. The parents are different. The needs are different. The cultures are different.
These things really do matter.
People get heated about their answers, though. People like Stephanie Metz over at The Metz Family seems to get heated about her answers. She wrote a blog post that’s getting some attention about… well really about a whole lot of different stuff. She started with the statement that her children are not the center of her world.
Tell that to the mother of newborn twins when she is clusterfeeding around the clock, as has happened to many other twin moms I know. Tell that to the mother of a child with profound special needs who has to set her schedule by her child’s medical needs. Tell that to the parent of an Olympic athlete who works hard to get her child to practice meets and competitions, sacrificing much of their own for their child’s extraordinary talents. Tell that to the parent who doesn’t have enough money or assistance to feed the whole family enough that sacrifices their own meals to make sure their children somehow aren’t left crying twenty minutes after every meal because it was so meager. Or how about the abusive parent that decides to seek help before hitting their child? Should that parent not have their child be the “center of their world?”
Tell that to somehow who lives a different life than you.
I’m sure that’s not what Ms. Metz meant. I’m sure she was talking to the “general” parent, but there are times in every parent’s life when their child is the center of their world, generally speaking, and that’s okay.
One of the horrible problems with blogging with such an authoritative voice is that the blanket statements end up covering far more than you ever intended to cover. So I’ll give Ms. Metz the benefit of the doubt, just like I give the benefit of the doubt to all the other parents out there just doing the best they know how.
Speaking of the benefit of the doubt, I doubt Ms. Metz knew how horrific bullying has truly become when she seemed to state that the only real bullying was physical assault in her screed.
30 years ago I was horrifically bullied in school. So much bullying I can’t even begin to stomach recounting it all. Only the smallest portion of it was physical. Maybe one or two physical assaults a year at most. The rest was whispered (or shouted) horrors. It was all so much that one day one of my bullies sat next to me and tried to talk to me as the person he had never treated me like. He asked me how I could handle all of the constant verbal abuse. He asked me, sincerely, why I didn’t kill myself, as he could see no other option if he were me. He was not being a bully at that moment, I can assure you. It was a strangely human moment wherein we were separated from our normal school environment and peers. We were forced to relate as peers in this environment and the situation forced him to assess his behavior and my own perseverance. He wasn’t telling me to kill myself, he was asking how I managed to not.
It was a fairly valid question.
That was 30 years ago. Before social media made it possible for the bullies to always follow you. Even if you switch schools. To make fresh starts impossible. To make escape impossible.
I doubt Ms. Metz truly understands that it’s not just Facebook, it’s also Instagram, and Twitter, and Snapchat, and a thousand other avenues into a child’s head, where hours and hours every day can be spent telling a girl she is ugly. She is a bitch. She is a whore. She is stupid. She is, in short, unacceptable, and always will be. I doubt Ms. Metz knows that the global village that children are a part of now means that all the people those bullies know, all the virtual friends, have also been told that the bullies’ targets are unacceptable. They have laughed and escalated it to a culture that is so lockstep that Anorexia is hitting as young as 6 now, with girls (and boys) dying to somehow achieve acceptable to their peers. To achieve acceptable to the face they see in the mirror.
Should that child not be the center of their parents’ world? That child who peers into a mirror and sees unacceptable because that is what is pinged at them from when they wake up to when they go to bed, should they too not be the center of their parents’ world because that will somehow ruin them for future success?
That’s not the end of Ms. Metz screed about how everyone else is doing it wrong, either. She talks about guns for a while, and about how her boys like to play good guy vs. bad guy. Okay? Does she want there to be more gun acceptance at schools? Is she living in the same country as me? As the Pozner’s?
The Pozner’s aren’t really into there being more gun acceptance at school. Despite the NRA making a concerted effort to get the parents of the Sandy Hook children to speak up about wanting more armed guards or armed teachers or armed anybody, they pretty much all stood up and spoke for less arms all in all.
I’m sorry if that makes your children pause before choosing a toy to bring to show and tell. I really am. I wish things like that had never happened. I wish we didn’t live in a place where we would have to worry about guns – toy guns or real guns – in schools, but we do. Perhaps your own wish to shelter your child from a world where he has to choose a less loved toy is really more at issue for you than the collective pain of people hoping to shelter their own children from a world where guns on a school’s campus may very well mean dead children. I assure you, for the rest of us, it’s that these calamities happened.
She then goes on to randomly rail against proposed grown-ups who have been so horribly raised by their parents that they are now gibbering in hallways after every random proposed encounter. As the internet likes to say, cool story, bro. It’s an interesting take on the psychological affects of attached parenting that is grounded on… not a whole lot other than smugness from what I can tell. I say smugness because she then goes on to tell the proposed story of her own two children and their proposed encounters in the world. She peers into her crystal ball and sees true, y’all. You can tell, because, hell, she speaks with authority. She said it! It must be true!
And hell, it probably is. Her sons will likely grow just fine. They’ll suffer the slings and arrows that people have been suffering for aeons, with new twists provided by new technology. They’ll have success and they’ll have failure. Maybe not in equal measure, because that’s just the way the old ball turns.
They’re likely to mostly be successful, though, by whatever terms she deems acceptable. She has the privilege to think hard about her parenting choices, and that means she’s getting to actually make parenting choices when a lot of people simply have their back to the wall as far as choices.
That’s really what I take exception to in her screed against other parents Doing It Wrong. The smugness she inadvertently comes across with (hey, benefit of the doubt, again) in her summation of all the ways she’s Doing It Right rubs me wrong. I’m sure that’s not how she meant it. She was just writing some thoughts out. I’m sure she has a lovely family, and beautiful boys who are a delight to be around. I’m sure she is a wonderful person with a lot of compassion.
I know I screw this blogging thing up all the time, too. I don’t always speak with the most compassion, or insight, or all the facts in place. Much as I try, I fail. I’d want someone to speak up when I fail. So, hey, I’m speaking up.