Thoughts have been swirling around in my head since Mother’s Day about parenting and why it feels so hard. In the grand scheme of things, my boys are really good. There are bumps in the road but all in all, they are gems. I really can’t complain. But that doesn’t stop make parenting them really friggin hard. I experience the same sentiment from my girlfriends. They have good kids too but the burden of trying to do the right thing and be a good parent is heavy.
Having just finished up the final season of Listen To Your Mother, I realize that a very common theme woven throughout the stories was how hard motherhood is. All of the stories are different, written by unique women, but they all agree that, while the best job in the world, parenting is the hardest job in the world.
Recently, I had another blow up about missing homework with Addison. I was exasperated at 1) his inability to turn homework in on time and 2) his surprise at being grounded until the work is turned in. Again. Sometimes I’m calm, sometimes I yell, sometimes I’m full of stormy silence. This time I was as honest as I could be without swearing. Over and over we have struggled through these very same problems and it is, quite frankly, a beat down.
Afterward, I wanted to scream and cry. I wanted to message all my girlfriends and vent in all caps. I wanted to write another wordy post about homework (believe it or not, this is not that post). Instead, I poured out my feelings on a page in my journal while watching little league.
I realized that it is not so much about the missing homework as it is about my own need to be a successful parent by having him succeed. I realized that the yoke of responsibility to bring up children without beating them down is so heavy that sometimes I feel like I can barely take two steps without crashing to my knees in defeat. I wondered about my own mom’s struggle to raise my brother and me. I wondered about all the mothers in her generation and their mothers. Did they find parenting this difficult? Did they feel the heavy burden of raising successful kids? Did they sit around with their friends and bitch about all the stupid stuff their kids did or said?
I think about the women who went before me and wondered how they handled the pressure and the heartache. Was it through bridge club and devotion to Days Of Our Lives? They may not have overscheduled their kids as we have but one thing remains the same between the generations; raising adorable, huggable, pains in the asses.
So here we are, Generation X and a little younger, turning toward the internet for help, solace, and advice to raise our kids and often finding guilt and shame. In our quest for the answers, we have too many answers and advice that runs the gamut from reasonable and level headed to extreme and bordering on unsafe. This world wide web is a double-edged sword of advice and community at its best and shame, bullying, and mom-guilt at its worst.
All of this information; the how-tos, the life hacks, the DIYs – that should make parenting easier right? But what if the information overload is hurting more than it is helping? What if there is too much advice and too much pressure to live up to what everyone else is doing? Forget keeping up with the Joneses, now we have to keep up with Pinterest.
Is the internet making parenting harder? With the dawn of unlimited information comes too many choices on the dos and don’ts of parenting. Suddenly every mom and their dog can be an expert at something. Before, moms turned to Woman’s Day magazine for advice. Today, we have every possible resource at our fingertips. Advice, sound or otherwise, is available for everything from vaccines to breastfeeding to nutrition to cloth diapers. Opinions are so strong that saying discussions can get a little heated is like saying a hike up Mt. Everest would be a fun, family day trip.
On the flip side, community and support can be found for families who before, were isolated and had no support to just a few families who faced similar challenges. Today, community can be found around the world for special needs families, adoptive families, autistic families, LGBTQ families. Support, education, and friendship are available for moms regardless of location. Before the internet, families facing challenges also faced ridicule and exclusion because the unknown was strange and terrifying to “normal” families. Now, education and acceptance is greater than ever. People are making an effort to understand the hardships of those different than themselves thanks to social media campaigns for awareness and tolerance.
I am fully aware at the irony of my present situation. Here I am, on the internet, spilling it about my parenting mishaps whilst criticizing the internet. I turn to the vast sea of digital information for solace all the while romanticizing a time when access to information was the nightly news and Readers Digest.
This endless expanse of information full of vitriol and beauty isn’t going anywhere. So, I will continue to love and hate it. I will admit that it is a huge part of my life. I will do my best to be responsible online and ignore the haters. I will try my hardest to be a part of the solution rather than the problem. I will choose my hills to die on, when to turn and retreat or to just not give a rat’s ass. I will try my hardest to do the next right thing with love and I will fall flat on my face. I will continue fostering my online friendships and I will have coffee with my real life girlfriends.
Is the internet making parenting harder? Possibly. But possibly not. I guess I can live with the tsunami of information and parenting advice as long as there are cute cat memes.