When I had Eli, I vividly remember feeling like I had just gained membership to this super-exclusive, amazing club. Other mothers and I share conspiratorial smirks as our kids run amok and we half-heartedly try to reign them in. The empathic look as a mother wrestles her tantruming three year old out of Target. The knowing, inner glow that comes from watching another mom sway her baby, gently "shhhing" remembering the hours you spent doing the same thing, until anytime you stand still you still unconsciously sway. I love that. I love the knowledge that this motherhood thing is a team sport, and that for the most part, we all support each other, knowing that we're all doing the best we can. I love that, despite your methods, we all know the feeling of peace as you look in on your sleeping child. We all know the feeling of having your priorities completely rearranged by someone who weighs less than a gallon of milk. The joy of watching your babies smile. It's so interesting to me to work with the women that I do, because it really highlights how strong the bond between mothers is. I work with moms who've lost their kids, gave up their kids, shit even killed their kids, and yet, we're all in this together. The same look crosses each woman's face when she talks about her babies. We all just get it.
I feel strongly that we are all in this together. When I'm with my kids, despite the methods I claim to use or the "expert" I follow, about 90% of the time I'm really just trying not to fuck up too bad. I think that's true for most of us. We wing it. We experiment. We struggle, and when we find something that works we celebrate. Extended breast feeding, formula, co-sleeping, sleep training, infant potty training. They're all awesome.
I get so frustrated when parents start judging each other for doing the best we can. No one sets out to screw up our kids. Quite the opposite, we obsess and research and worry and beat ourselves up. But there are tons of studies that say the best thing we can do is try not to fuck our kids up too bad. I find that reassuring. For some people, their best means all organic, no vaccines, baby-directed, 24/7 baby-wearing. For others that means flash cards, Baby Einstein, the Ferber method and classical music in constant rotation. It really doesn't matter. What matters is that we're trying the best we can.
Despite the circumstances, I believe that we all love our children so much that it's indescribable. I believe that we all want the best for our kids, no matter how you define that. So daycare, formula, cribs, prison records. Let's all back the fuck off. This parenting gig is hard enough. I mean that both for those of us raising our kids and those of us who aren't. We all know the feeling that comes when that little person makes their big entrance, but we have no idea what's going to work best for another family. By all means, share your tricks. Listen to each other's struggles. Laugh through the frustration and at the utter ridiculousness of it all. Having kids is awesome, and amazing, and sometimes really really hard. But we're all in this together, and at the end of the day the majority of us are doing a damn fine job. Or at least trying not to screw up too bad.