I read a lot of parenting books. A lot. And I spend a lot of time thinking about what I feed my children, how I talk to them, discipline them, what kinds of things I let them watch on TV, etc. I love them so much, and want to be the best possible mother I can be for them. I want very badly to be that whole-food-feeding, every-day-full-of-teachable-moments-believing, full-attention-giving, attachment-parenting, good-emotional-example-being, earnest Mother of the Year that I swear I see at the library every-other week.
In reality, though, I'm not sure I am.
The thing is that, as hard as I try, I think I'm more of a chicken-nugget-buying, Disney-movie-playing, sarcastic-comment-making, "Just a minute!"-saying, sometimes-yelling, paint-mess-avoiding, nap-enforcing, introvert good-enough parenting mother that you swear you've seen bribing her kid to be quiet while she just makes these 25 copies really quickly at your no-children-allowed workplace.
Last night I came late to a Mom's Night Out dinner organized by some of my friends, and when I got there I was informed that the unofficial topic for the night had been, "Venting. A lot of Venting. About (teeth clenched) Our Children." As the topic moved from how not to laugh when your child says something totally inappropriate (but hilarious) in the middle of being disciplined to whether it's really that insensitive to send your (annoyingly, and probably poutily) crying child to finish that outburst in their room, I felt myself relaxing. THESE are my people. That's right, the one who just said her kids had cupcakes for breakfast because that was the only breakfast food she could find, and who reasoned that an unfrosted cupcake cannot really be any worse than a doughnut. My ladies.
At Bible study yesterday someone commented that the Holy Spirit's continual work in us gives rest to the perfectionist, who can then relax in the process instead of fretting over not being a finished work yet. I wonder sometimes if I spend so much time stressing over whether I'm doing the "right" things with my kids to really enjoy the relationship I have with them. I think that reading about, hearing about, and talking to other mothers who are okay with not being politically, socially, or psychologically correct all the time allows me to relax a little bit and have a good laugh at the beautifully awkward situations our family finds itself in.
Here are some good reads for that purpose:
First, the blog Scary Mommy.
Next, a link sent by my friend Melanie, to a blog post that printed an essay by Tina Fey.
Finally, an article my husband shared this week, which says that research suggests good parenting isn't so much about the parenting style you use, but the appreciation your kids feel for the relationship you have with them.