I think it's safe to say that I don't just love social media, I am in love with it. I looooovvvvvvveeeeeee it. Through social media, I stay in contact with friends and family no matter how many years or miles are between us. I use it to vent and to brag. I use it to find out what book I just HAVE to read, and what movie completely sucked. I use it to watch your kids grow and to see how you've decorated your living room. I use it to find tips and to get ideas. I could go on and on, but you get the picture. I love the Internet. As we all know, there are two sides to every coin, and with love there is often hate. This world wide web that I adore to pieces, comes armed with a sharp edged sword. Of all the things that I've learned on my beloved laptop, the fact that I am a totally shitty parent seems to be the one that people feel the need to remind me of most regularly.
Years ago, I joined a site called CafeMom. At first I had no idea what to expect, because I had never been part of any type of message board. As I learned more about the concept, I got excited! Here I was, a stay at home mom, away from my hometown for the first time and in a place where I didn't know a soul. To find out that I could "meet" people without ever even putting my bra on, was like, amazing. A total cure for the loneliness I was completely overcome with when we first moved to Ft Benning. As a concept, it was a good one. As a reality? Terrible, terrible idea. Now don't get me wrong. I have met women on CafeMom who I adore and who I believe I will be in contact with forever, even though I've never met most of them face-to-face. However, CafeMom was the first place that I learned just what a terrible parent I was. So, in the interest of full disclosure, I'm going to share with you the horrors I have committed in my 18 years of parenthood. In no particular order:
1. I let a kid CIO. "Cry it out" for those of you who like me, had no idea wtf CIO meant for the longest time. Yes, my name is Leigh Anne, and I let my poor, neglected child cry himself to sleep in his warm, cozy bed, under our more than adequate roof, with a belly full of milk that I personally created. I had no idea that in addition to providing for his/her every need in life, I was also expected to forever neglect my own sanity when I just mentally couldn't deal any longer. Ok, technically I tried to let all three CIO at one time or another. Will and Parker were pretttttty darn smart though. They could make themselves puke in .5 seconds, thereby ending the CIO and creating more work for my already frazzled mind. Jace however, lacked that puking on command capability.... So, while Thomas was gone to school for 6 months, during which I spent EVERY WAKING MOMENT of my life attending to Jace, I began letting him CIO. After two nights, I was rewarded with a child who put himself to sleep at night, with no tears, and who let me know he was awake in the morning by babbling happy gibberish into his baby monitor in the morning. Clearly, I am the devil.
2. My sons have no foreskins. Yes, I have to confess that I just let those little effers be chopped off willy nilly, without a care in the world. Recently, through my force fed education, I have learned that this can be linked to PTSD in the future. I can only imagine those group meetings. "Hi, I'm John. I have PTSD because I was deployed to Afghanistan and an IED hit our convoy. I watched my battle body be blown into tiny bits, most of which covered my face." "Hi, I'm Will. I have PTSD because my mom had me circumsized. An event that I have ABSOLUTELY NO RECOLLECTION OF." Anywho.. finding out this crucial info had me quizzing both my husband and Will about the loss of their apparently crucial piece of body tissue. Both of them emphatically agreed that they had no interest in having foreskin. I think Will actually said it was "gross". I don't know, don't care. Between this and having Parker's ears pierced as a baby, I have clearly proven that I have no respect for my children's ownership of their own bodies, and they should probably be put into foster care.
3. At times, I have actually disciplined my children if they were throwing a tantrum. You see, when my 2 year old decided to hurl himself down on the floor in the middle of a restaurant because he wanted to cut his own chicken, or he didn't want to cut his own chicken, or he didn't want chicken to begin with, or he wanted chicken, but he didn't want it, because toddlers are completely effing bipolar, I didn't realize that he was merely expressing his frustration with the struggles of being a toddler, and that I was supposed to look on with a patient smile while he worked through this inner demon. No you see, I smacked that ass. It is a small wonder that the older two haven't been arrested yet, or taken me to court for legal emancipation. I should probably suggest that to them...
4. I breastfed with discretion. My kids probably secretly hate me for not just whipping my boob out with absolutely no consideration for anyone else around me, and for attempting to be discrete. My inability to share my areola with the general population, will no doubt be the subject of many a counseling session in the future. I chose to use a blanket, or turn away from other people, or find a nursing area, or hell, even use a bottle when I was out and about. Why did I neglect the basic needs of my child (which is apparently turning his mother into an exhibitionist,) in order to meet the needs of others? Two reasons. 1. I kinda believe that only my husband and/or nursing child should see my nipples, and 2. I thought that being respectful of the people around me was an important part of life. Clearly I should be shot. My kids would have fared better with some enfamil....
5. I forward faced at 12 months. I never knew that apparently my 12 year old should still be locked up tight in her rear facing car seat until she is of an age to drive herself. At that point, she can forward face, but only because it is slightly more safe if she can actually see the road. I mean, I know now, because I can barely log into facebook without seeing a video of how to properly latch a kid into a carseat, and which way it needs to be facing. Personally after having watched some of those videos, I think the only real solution is to never leave the house.
6. I let my kids eat McDonalds. And drink sodas. They had solid food before the age of 6 months. I have given them nitrate sticks dipped in ketchup, and I don't buy organic apples. They would fare better in Ethiopia than in this house full of refined sugars and white bread. I do try to limit these things now, but I don't forbid them. I'll be waiting for CPS to knock on my door.
Moral of all this? None of us have this parenting thing down pat. We ALL make mistakes. I guess I just don't see the point of trying to make other parents feel bad just because their choices aren't your choices. Unless they are smoking around their kids, in which case I will join you on the soap box and wonder why we can't bring back tarring and feathering...
Being a parent has been the single best thing that I have ever done in my life, and you know, it comes with a fair amount of guilt involved as well. I wish we could start supporting each other instead of lecturing each other. I wish we could make this whole thing a little less stressful by not sitting back on our high horses thinking that we are clearly doing this thing the right way, and anyone who does it differently is wrong.
I logged into facebook this morning to see that a toddler just lost his battle to cancer. I think about this poor child. His poor family. I think about the amount of pain and suffering he had to go through in order to try to beat this, and I think about the pain and suffering that his parents felt just watching that. I think about all this and I wonder one thing. Why are we not being outraged about childhood cancers, or children who truly are abused or neglected? I get that we all have our "causes", but at the end of the day, I have to wonder why people get so worked up about whether or not my kid has a "intact" penis, when there are children who don't even have food to eat. Who go to bed hungry at night. I guess I just don't get it.... In the meantime, I guess I will just have to be grateful that my kids are healthy, and beg forgiveness for the times that I've failed as a parent. Mostly I'm just going to be grateful. The rest will work itself out in the end.