You’re curious, right? I bet you’re already shaking your head, thinking I’m about to school you on packing bento box lunches with salmon and quinoa, or pinterest-worthy craft projects so I can show off my child’s advanced artistic prowess.
Yeah, that’s not me.
I have no guide on how to be an awesome working parent (sorry, I know the headline is deceiving. Catchy though, huh?) Anyone who claims otherwise is full of it, and trying to make you feel bad by downgrading your efforts. Truth is, most days I feel like I’m not doing either job particularly well. There are plenty of days when my kids eat boxed mac and cheese for dinner (yup. I own a mac and cheese restaurant, and this still happens), and watch too much TV, and others when I have to duck out of important meetings because Nico has a fever. Again. For the fourth time this month.
I have spent so much time feeling guilty about all this. Guilty about my short maternity leaves, about not giving my second child enough attention, about nights spent at the restaurant and days spent home when Luca catches pneumonia. I think most of us spend an inordinate amount of time feeling guilty about something, an emotion that’s pretty useless when you think about it. All it does is keep us in the past.
But here’s the thing. There will always be parents out there who make you feel bad about yourself, whether they mean to or not. Make you think you’re not trying hard enough. You’re not involved enough. Not crafty enough, not feeding your kids the right things. Stay-at-home parents who have home-cooked meals ready at 5pm, working parents who still find time to volunteer at every school event. Most of the time, there’s no malice. These people are just doing their thing, completely unaware of how you feel. But sometimes, it feels so intentional. Like the aloof parents who casually say things like, “I can’t imagine having children who don’t sleep. My child has slept 12 hours straight since he was four months old.” Well, great. I bet he never gets sick, and loves eating beets and kale too, right?
So anyway. Don’t fall into the trap. Don’t scour pinterest for the most ornate homemade dollhouse made out of popsicle sticks, or the healthiest boxed lunch that you can cut into stars with cutesy handwritten notes. Use that time to just be with your kids. Even if you’re exhausted and that time is spent on the couch, watching TV together. Don’t waste whatever energy you have left feeling guilty. Because I guarantee you, those facebook friends who seem to have their lives perfectly in check . . . they don’t. They’re just better at hiding it.