We had a great day at the beach. My daughter loves playing, making castles in the sand. My husband and I both relaxing, barefooted, and walking along the water’s edge with our frolicking three-year-old. I put on my favorite bikini bottoms, super cool, edgy bikini bottoms I always feel proud wearing. They felt a bit different, but perhaps it was just because I hadn’t worn them since last summer. We enjoyed the day, snapped photos, and most importantly, made great memories. When we got home, I looked at the photos and did more than a double take when I came across ones of me standing in the water. That had to be a bad angle. But the images made a little piece of me cringe, thinking, “Oh, so this is what’s changed”.
Parenting outside the box: Celebrating family in all forms.
I’m a bit sad my daughter won’t have the kind of carefree childhood I recall. There was a certain magic to being a kid in a world where everything wasn’t served with a side of warning, and one wasn’t tethered to some form of electronic device at all times. Moms felt comfortable yelling from the back porch out into the wilderness, knowing their kids would come home, worried less about organic foods, or the latest rise in Lyme’s Disease.
A summer day in my childhood went something like this:
Mom makes pancakes and scrambled eggs while my brother and I watch cartoons in the morning. After a while she tells us to go play, and we head out into the woods behind our backyard. It’s a forest to our young eyes. Our sunscreen-free skin lightly toasted in the light, exposed to ticks, poison ivy, and other dangers, but we don’t think about it at all.
We all know those parents.
Their perfect offspring never tantrums, learned to read before Kindergarten, kicks a soccer ball better than Beckham, and has artistic skills to rival Picasso.
You stand beside the swing set, nodding your head as they gush about their child’s seemingly inhuman accomplishments. If you’re nicer than me, you’re thrilled that such a talented individual will lead the next generation. If not, your internal monologue goes something like this: Your kid is eating boogers. Right now
Apart from what I’ve witnessed at playgrounds, birthday parties, and Thanksgiving dinners, the Mommy Wars rage in my mind. I returned to work only six weeks after my oldest daughter was born and the struggle, the crippling indecisiveness to stay in the workforce or stay at home has remained a constant for seven years.
There are some things you actually have control over when parallel parenting. Sorry, none of these things involve controlling your ex or children.
Many children face invisible challenges. From behavioral issues to physical impairments, the path these kids travel to reach developmental milestones requires immense effort — often by the entire family.
So yes, that is my daughter crying to be rescued from the second rung of a ladder. That is me running to her. But she is brave in ways others cannot see, and I am challenging her in ways they cannot comprehend.
I never know when it will happen. The moments when Time pushes against me. It happened before I had kids, but Time shoves back harder and faster now that I’m watching you grow.
I expect it when we cross the big milestones: Whenever I pack away one size of clothes to make room for another, Pre-K Graduation, birthday parties with Elmo cupcakes, writing the first day of school on a chalk board for you to hold, grinning wide despite your fear of the unknown.
But it’s the moments I’m not expecting that take my breath away.
I am the mother of girls. I cannot speak to the challenges of raising boys in modern America. I admit my bias, but I believe it’s possible to lift women, to lift girls, without oppressing men or boys. Collective rising is the goal.
After having my first baby, I struggled with my identity, a lot. We all do, whether we like to admit it or not. I felt like changing diapers in under 10 seconds was all I was good at. It felt like getting him to sleep more than two hours was my biggest accomplishment. I know that most of us don’t like to admit this, even to ourselves, but it isn’t enough. We need more to be fulfilled, and that’s okay.
There are so many rowdy little boys like mine in the world. Instead of understanding who they are, people label them the trouble makers or tell their parents they need to be put on ADD meds. So, today I want to challenge all of you out there. Whether you are a parent or not. The next time you see a rowdy little boy, do not label him. Don’t tell him he’s bad because he wants to explore the world with his hands and push limits.