Being a parent makes me mediocre at everything, even parenting. It's something I've known for a while, but this is the first time I'm making the confession public. And I would argue most parents aren't very good at much else either, because being a parent is tough, especially a working parent, and once the day is over and the kids are tucked in bed, all I really want to do is drink a glass of wine in my pajamas and watch mindless TV. Being a parent also makes me a vidiot. And a late-night drinker (although "late-night" for me is 9 p.m.). I guess my attempt to be my best self takes a backseat to making sure my kids' needs are met; it doesn't really bother me much because I am happy and my children are in good, albeit sometimes frazzled hands.
So why is it that we parents feel the need to hide our realities from the world, especially social media? Check any mom's Instagram or Facebook feed, including my own, and it looks like we are running a regular Montessori. The kids are smiling and sun-kissed. There's paint and Legos and fresh fruit dripping from their chins. We play guitar and sing songs and frolic in the mud with abandon, only to curl up together on the couch for a midday weekend nap while the turntable plays Cat Stevens records and we read Where the Wild Things Are in monster voices. Hilarity ensues. All is right with the world. And the photos we capture are as grainy as our memories of these moments will be, because they are only a small and somewhat dishonest slice of the day.
What you don't see between the stories and smiles is reality. We are not perfect parents, and the aforementioned moments are only captured and shared because they make us look like we know what we're doing. They validate for us that our kids are sometimes doing what we ask and we are sometimes fulfilling the vision we had for ourselves before becoming parents. The reality is far different. Saturdays begin far too early in our house, and the first words out of Atticus' mouth each morning are usually, "I wanna go watch TV." And we oblige because it buys us another hour in bed. By the time we're up, Atticus has dumped every toy out on the living room floor and eaten a nutritious breakfast of Graham Crackers and apple juice. Alone. We're already failing at our job before our day has even begun. As the morning drags on, we'll witness a few tantrums, likely because we put his juice in the wrong cup or asked him to clean up the mess he made earlier. We might catch him eating cat food or picking his nose. Quinn will sit in a dirty diaper for longer than should be allowed and cry because he wants to do something, anything, other than tummy time. And through it all I will lose my patience or raise my voice, even though I know I shouldn't. We are only human.
And we will continue to make mistakes along the way. I refuse to pretend that we are perfect parents and that the sun is always shining in our house. Sometimes it's not. And that's OK. Because perfection is an awfully tall order to fill, and I have better things to do than attain impossible goals. Like teach my kid that sticks don't go in kitty's eyes... it's a lesson that should be learned sooner rather than later, for kitty's sake.
Legos outside! What you didn't see: he eventually threw these at the dog.
Hugs! What you didn't see: this was an apology for slapping Daddy in the face.
A picnic with friends! What you didn't see: we lost Atticus for five full minutes.
Snuggles! What you didn't see: diarrhea, shortly after.