I have a game for you. Try scrolling through Facebook without stumbling across an article with a string of comments that make you question your ability to parent and/or live a morally acceptable life. (Then, when you find one -- because it's inevitable unless you micromanage your feed -- kindly unfollow.) That's the thing about the Internet these days: helpful information is so readily available (e.g. Is my kid's poop the right color? Is my poop the right color?!), but with the good come some very strong opinions, often accompanied by choice words and threatening emoji. And it stings.
Let's take a step back. Imagine a friend confided in you about feeling like a terrible mom: you'd probably remind her how awesome she is and then, if you're anything like me, beat yourself up three hours later for feeding your kid macaroni (not the organic kind) for the third time this week. Because we're so good at giving grace to others, but when it comes to our own parenting, we withhold it -- especially on the Internet. So here are a few powerful little truths to keep in your back pocket while you scroll.
1. Parenting isn't one-size-fits-all.
Your baby doesn't nap? You breastfeed your toddler? You require more caffeine to survive any given day? Good on you. I trust your judgment. I'm not sure about you, but I'm more inspired by the parents who do their own thing for the good of their families than the ones who fit the mold just for the sake of fitting it. Because they remind me I'm free to do what I think is best for my own family.
2. You're trying your best.
If you were a bad parent, I don't think you would care so much about how well you are doing. And your baby probably wouldn't be sleeping safe in a crib with a full stomach, comfortable temperature, and clean diaper. Just a guess.
3. Your kid needs to see you fail and recover.
Of course, we all want to offer a good example to our children. But we're human. And according to my statistics, there's a 100 percent chance we will fail our children in some way. So maybe it's less about being perfect and more about rising up boldly and asking for forgiveness when we do fail.
4. You are more than your worst day.
Every so often (and by that I mean at least three out of seven days), my toddler son is in front of the TV for a good chunk of the afternoon. Because dishes. And migraines. And sanity. You know those guilt-tripping ads that say "kids will never remember their best day of TV"? Maybe it's true. But I'll definitely remember the day I was emotionally dangling by a thread, and co-parenting with "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" literally kept me from smashing valuable family heirlooms. That day was a success. And it's also the exception, not the rule.
5. You will (probably) not ruin your child.
My childhood wasn't exactly picturesque. I watched more cable TV (long before "Caillou" was the biggest problem on kids' television) than socially acceptable and consumed enough trans fats and processed snacks to make a naturopath shudder. I wasn't breastfed. And I definitely never went to a fancy preschool. But it didn't ruin me! I found my way, and I think I'm a better human because of it.
6. The Internet trolls don't have their crap together.
If they did, they wouldn't be trolling Facebook to make other parents feel bad. They'd be hanging out with their kids.
7. Your kid needs you.
Not the Supermom who juggles ballet and jiu-jitsu and infant cooking classes and actual juggling while miraculously maintaining her middle school pants size. Not the parent who makes double your income and whisks her family away to the Florida Keys every January, then proceeds to taunt you with highly filtered Facebook albums. Your family needs you, not the hero parent you think you need to be. So give yourself grace, mama -- you're loved more than you know.