Thursday, 5 May 2016

Parenting on a Best-effort Basis

So I'm scrolling through my email the other day, and I see a parenting newsletter I subscribe to, with the headline, "Kids are addicted to devicesand it's our fault".

It probably says something about my parenting style that my first reaction wasn't, "Oh, I must immediately read this article to see what I need to do to remedy this terrible situation I've inadvertently created!" Instead, it was, "Greeeaaat...another crappy thing for which parents need to take the blame."

The story was about a study that has found kids model their parents' behaviour (well, duh), including how they behave with mobile devices. So when we're constantly checking our cell phones, we're teaching our kids bad habits about concentration and mindfulness. Ultimately, we're creating an environment that allows our children to become "addicted" to screen time.

I get it, I really do. But, as a mother, I'm getting a little tired of being blamed. It's our fault if we don't breastfeed our kids, because we're not giving them the "best start" in lifebut it's equally our fault if we "expose" ourselves by breastfeeding in public. It's our fault for not always buying organic produce (even if our kid is going through a blueberry phase and a single pint of organic blueberries will set you back $8!). For going back to work instead of staying home to raise the kids—or for staying home and not living up to our full potential by going back to work. For not spending enough time with our children. For spending enough time with them, but not enough quality time. And now, for handing over the iPad so the grownups can have a peaceful dinner out.

Like parents everywhere, I make mistakes, I'm not doing everything perfectly, and I'm not always the parent I want to be. But I'm doing my best. 

I remembered the $2 donation for a gift for the teacher who's going on mat leave, I remembered Crazy Hair Day at my younger daughter's daycare, I remembered to pack my older daughter's lunch - but I forgot to have her read her home reader tonight.

I'm doing my best.

I'm going to the daycare Mother's Day party tomorrow and hosting a Mother's Day brunch on Sundayeven though I hate Mother's Day because it only reminds me of the fact that I don't have one anymore.

I'm doing my best.

I have to check my phone in the evenings and answer work emails sometimes—because I commute two hours to work each day, and that's the trade-off for leaving at a reasonable hour. And yes: sometimes that's not the real reason I'm on my phone. Sometimes I just want to play Candy Crush.

What do we tell our kids when they have a recital or a hockey game? "Don't worry; just do your best." So let's give ourselves the same advice.

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