It’s difficult to write about, not even parenting, but being when your children are older, which is largely why this space now sits quietly stagnant for so long. Can vagueness and truthfulness co-exist? Perhaps.
Parenting in the age of social media is terribly complex. I love the record-keeping aspect of it, the connections made and kept (which I consider real, despite the counterargument) and the large village one can depend on for, mostly, kindness (perhaps requiring a well-curated Friends list) and advice, whether taken or ignored.
But it’s hard, too. I’m sure, although unintended, I’ve posted words that result in inward sighs from others for reasons I’ll never know. Because I know that sigh well – it wells up inside of me when reading about parental pride, mostly, followed by well-meaning comments that congratulate the parent for a job well done.
I know. “Well job, mama,” is simply nice. But too often I want to be a little bird that sits on the typist’s shoulders and whisper this: Sometimes you can try all.the.things and still, the outcome can be blurry, not great – sometimes even bad.
Theodore Roosevelt’s quote, “comparison is the thief of joy,” is often shared on social media, typically in a lovely font, graphically styled in a minimalist or curvy fashion with maybe a picture of the ocean behind it, thoughtfully filtered.
I understand this, deep down I understand this. And I’ve been alive long enough to know that every human being on this planet is unique, no one is perfect, and perfection in parenting simply doesn’t exist. I know our photo albums and living rooms are sometimes different stories.
I curate my Facebook feed. We all do. I try for a good mix of funny stories, gratefulness, hard honesty, articles I love, my friends’ achievements (typically writing) and sometimes a heartfelt political rant. Still, I’m sure there’s sighing. Because even when you share the hard parts of life they can seem quite lovely when placed in the right filtered light.
And I sigh, too, especially when folks equate goodness with good parenting. Sometimes, you can’t win. There’s nature and nurture and genetics and learned behavior and circumstance and things understood and things not understood and success and failure and so much gray when seemingly everyone clings to black and white.
Can simply the act of trying be good parenting, no matter the outcome? Is that, maybe, the definition of love? We try. Every morning we dedicate ourselves, while brewing the coffee and scrambling the eggs and signing the planner, to simply trying. We try and succeed and we love. We try and we fail and we love. And throughout it all, there’s the thread of worry.
That concept, though, is a difficult thing to share. Not because of the peeled-back honesty of it, but because it’s difficult to put into words and tiresome to include with each post. And some things are good. Just plain good. And meant to be celebrated. And some things are relatable. And some things are funny. And some things aren’t meant to be shared. But in all those posts, the ones we contribute to the world’s virtual village and the ones stored deep in our heart, unread, I’d like to think there’s trying, and loving, with success and failure, and then trying again.
“The most important thing she’d learned over the years was that there was no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.” – Jill Churchill