My son turned 3 last week and (I think) a child's birthday is a good time to reflect on where you are as a parent.
Lately my thoughts are focused around patterns that I find myself falling into. My cousin posted this story – an open letter to moms who don't feed their kids organic food – on her Facebook feed last week. When I read it, I muttered to myself "I am so glad I don't know people like that."
Then it dawned on me that I don't know any "mean green parents" because I'm not putting myself in a position to know them.
My son goes to daycare and it is the obvious place to interact with new parents. When he first started, I knew every kid and parent in his classroom. There were some parents I genuinely wanted to get to know better. Eventually those people moved on and I stopped trying to keep up. It seems like everyone just nods hello, packs up their kids, and goes home to make dinner (myself included).
I have access to plenty of friends and family with children of similar ages. We get along well. The idea of engaging new parents with their own priorities, theories, and causes to champion...sounds exhausting. I know I'm not going to be able to politely ignore his classmates' parents forever without it negatively impacting him.
I can't quite buy into the "we have kids the same age, let's be pals" mindset. I am not sure why, either. On paper, the idea of socializing with parents around the same age, living in the same neighborhood, and caring for a child sounds like a slam dunk. But it doesn't work out that way. People are busy and have their own lives and schedules, so making a solid connection is difficult. So difficult that it becomes easier to develop a short-hand way of dismissing someone to avoid the effort altogether.
Raising children is intense. I attribute that intensity to 24-hour news cycles and the internet. So much time and energy is spent on the betterment of our children that a different parenting method can be the start of a major disagreement. I am a pragmatist at heart and I am not ready to box myself into any style or methodology and I don't want to have to defend what I am doing either.
The glut of parenting advice available is impossible absorb and process. But it can't be ignored. We form tribes around the ideas that resonate with us and find ways to shelter ourselves from what doesn't; reinforcing our chosen methods with "proven" success stories.
All that being said, I have to remind myself that I have to do better for my son, because it really is about him.
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