"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." -Emerson

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Mommy Rules throughout the Ages

A couple of months ago, I took my then 10 month old to her 9 month checkup. Yep. A whole month late. Not only was she late for her 9 month appointment, but apparently, I totally skipped her 6 month one. After arguing pretty vehemently with the nurse that surely her record keeping was amiss because certainly I wouldn’t forget a child’s very important checkup and scheduled shots appointment, I was handed a neat little OFFICIAL print out with all of her vaccine information and alas, no dates listed around her 6 month birthday. #momfail

After the whole “Shotgate” of 2015, the doctor went through the standard parenting questions for well child visits. Third kid, I could do this appointment in my sleep…and I may have been sleeping because it’s the third kid and I didn’t do any of that sleep training like I was supposed to at birth because well, it’s the third kid and we are pretty much operating on prison rules here. It’s every person for themselves, man.

When she got to the eating portion of her inquisition, I blurted out, “so what are the rules now? What can I feed this kid?” You see, the list of “things to feed a baby” had been permanently expunged from my brain the nanosecond child #2 turned into a toddler and I replaced it with the “things to feed a toddler” list. Expecting the itemization of DO NOT FEED’s that are posted at most zoos, I was shocked to learn that the new rule for feeding babies is that there are no rules, EXCEPT for the nefarious honey. Honey will jack your baby up. DO NOT FEED YOUR BABY HONEY.

But, it got me thinking as I was slipping in and out of slumber, answering a million questions on my parenting choices, our generation has a whole laundry list of rules for childrearing that is longer than any other generation’s before it. We’ve got rules on how and when a child should eat, sleep, poop, play, watch tv, brush teeth, do chores, and the list goes on and on… it made me wonder, what has happened to us? How have we complicated this already complicated parenting thing so much? It also made me think about life before Pinterest, WebMD, Facebook, and the like. How did humanity survive without the internet to guide it in its every waking moment? What were the rules of previous generations? I’m pretty sure it went something like this:

Prehistoric Mom’s Rules to Live By: Don’t let baby get eaten by Saber Tooth Tiger.

Fair enough.

Middle Ages Motherhood: Don’t let baby play with rats.

                Done. The plague was no joke.

Moms of Westward Expansion: Don’t let baby near the edge of the wagon.

                Yup. I get it. Car seats not invented yet.

And if we fast forward to perhaps say the generation of my mom, the moms of the 80’s, the rule list might be: don’t let your baby watch PeeWee Herman.

                Because let’s face it, that cat was weird.

But now, now motherhood is inundated with so many rules that I can’t even keep up. Not only are there so many rules, but so many conflicting ones that are out there AND the rules keep changing. It’s like a moving target of parenting perfection. A bull’s eye even Katniss couldn’t hit. So many voices shouting at me from inside my computer screen, telling me all the ways I am royally screwing my kids up. Not to mention, I’ve got all these friends, who are hearing these other voices, and who are now whispering at me through insidious social media posts as to why breastfed is best fed, homeschool is hot, and vaccines are a shot to my child’s soul with every prick of the needle.

Hear me when I say this, no matter what side of the parenting wars you fall on, I’m not saying you are wrong. I’m not saying you are right either. I’m just saying I can’t say with certainty what THE way to raise these kids are and I’m pretty sure you can’t either.

The fact is that this parenting gig is really 1% knowledge and 99% faith but we have reversed those numbers. There are all these false promises (aka RULES) I keep telling myself:

If I can keep red dye #40 out of my kid’s diet, he will never disobey me.

If I just homeschool my little one, then they won’t turn to drugs, sex, and rock and roll come the teenage years.

If I ensure no more than thirty minutes of screen time a day, these kids will be paying for our nursing home with all the degrees they will have.

Truth is, it doesn’t work like that. Motherhood is as much about finding the perfect formula as dieting is about taking the right “as seen on TV” pill. It ain’t going to happen with some magic fix. It’s a lot of hard work coupled with a whole lot of faith in the One who gave you the title of MOTHER. And can I let you in on a little secret? I’m pretty sure the God that created the vast array of creatures, systems, and matter is a rather creative guy. He individualized snowflakes so I am guessing He was banking on us moms each being unique in our form, yet coming together to make a blanket of beautiful.

Bottom line: I CAN’T KEEP UP WITH ALL THE RULES. And mama, something tells me you can’t either. Let’s stop making Pinterest the standard in which we assess our parenting skills. Can we just say no to a Facebook diatribe on a hot button parenting issue because we never know when we are yet another voice screaming in the ear of our already insecure mommy friend? Could we accept that maybe parenting does not have to be as complicated as a common core math problem? How about we dial down the internet search in to the rabbit hole of knowledge? Just for a minute. I’m thinking there is no way to make this mothering thing “easy”, but I have a feeling there is a way we could all make it a little lighter…


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Here’s to the mamas of all generations!


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