The fear is real. Becoming a parent is the least prepared, most stressed, unbelievable achievement that this human world has to offer. It is a biological need we have. Babies are cute and that newborn head smell! Oh, better than any drug.
But then comes reality. Home with a teeny tiny little one with arms and legs and eyes, and skin, and heartbeat, and whoa! The realization comes; you are responsible for keeping this little one alive. More than that, you are responsible for every success, failure, cry, scream, need, and want this little one has! You are responsible for 20 + years everything that this little human being needs. And the world is watching.
It used to be keeping a kid alive was enough to be a good parent. You were enough if your children were fed, clothed, and had a roof over their heads. That was your job as a parent. Boo-boo kisses were extra and the town was expected to care for the kids as much as you the parent. That is no longer true.
The burden for all, for everything, is now on you. And more than ever, there are a thousand voices telling you what that is supposed to look like, what you are supposed to look like, and who you are supposed to be raising.
I call it Performance Parenting. The world is a stage and with the invention of the internet and social media, you are now the performer.
It is not enough to have your mother or mother-in-law telling you what you are doing wrong, how it should be done, or what million things could be better, it’s now the schools, the neighbors, some stranger you meet at a business dinner, and of course, the Mommy Blogs. They are all telling you how to be the Best Mother Ever!
And if you don’t do what they want you to do? Shame. Shame on you! Guilt, criticism, and social bullying come from all over. The look down the nose for not breast feeding from a mother who can so easily, passive aggressive showboating from that genius kid who can play the piano at five years old (and why isn’t your kid a Beethoven like that), why your teen is depressed articles (it’s your fault they say), and why aren’t our diets and parenting skills like the other nations (who are obviously better than us.)
It’s a lot. It’s a whole lot.
As humans, when we measure our success we look around at the other people near us to see how we are doing. Before the internet, that would be our neighbors, our church our small communities, our town schools, and our families. That was it.
Now we are open to the world. Our families, our children, and the way we raise our children, is now open to the world. We look around to see how we are doing and we are comparing ourselves to people from many other countries, nations, cultures, and opinions.
That can be good as we are now able to learn from all those different people and parents with new ideas and new ways of doing things. But it can also make us feel like we are never enough.
Because no matter how much you do, how well you do it, or how awesome your children are, you will always be able to find someone else who is doing it better, more, more often, or showing you how to do better than you are today.
There will always be more. There will always be better. In this new world of performance and showmanship, there will always be someone better, prettier, smarter, more capable, and more awesome than you feel you are. Always.
I believe the sleep deprivation that comes when that newborn comes home was designed to tear down that Performance Parenting desire. (Because after 4 days without a shower and covered in all sorts of baby bodily fluids, there is an acceptance that no filter will ever hide the mess, we give up and just embrace the insanity!:) I believe the toddler age was designed to tear down our egos thinking we got it all figured out. (For when you lose an argument with a 2 year old and they walk away with that sugar treat you said you would never give them, there is a sick sense of pride and resignation that this parenting thing may not go the way you thought after all.)
Performance Parenting goes against the system of children that was built to tear us down and help us connect to the children. That’s the point of parenting: connecting to the children. It’s not about connecting to some random stranger on Facebook who thinks they know everything that you should do to be a perfect parent. It isn’t about posing perfectly symmetrical photos of your kids in matching outfits, or a Pinterest worthy OCD clean house. Childhood was set up to tear down the parents so that you reach a point of giving up the performance show and just be, just be human, just be a person, just be in the mess, just be in love, just love.
That is why I believe it’s so hard. It is designed to create connection to the children. Because caring about our kids is what parenting is really all about. And when you care about your kids to the best of your ability? That makes you the Best Parent in the World!
And the only one you need to be.
You are the best because you are doing your best! Everyone is doing their best! (Even the ones we think aren’t.) That is the secret to Performance Parenting. There is no Best Ever. Parenting, life as a human being, is THE HARDEST thing ever.
Life as a human being is hard. There is no easy Photoshop Instagram filter to make it easier. It is hard.
So when you find yourself feeling not enough. When those emails from the school come in telling you not to be a helicopter parent at the same time telling you to make sure your 9th grader has their homework done in time, pull back into mindfulness and see how absurd this all is! See the show for what it is. See the performance at play. Watch the players interact and try their best to do what they think is best.
And have some compassion. Have compassion for yourself in this high pressure world where everything is judged by people you will never meet. Have some compassion for yourself when you find yourself second guessing your decisions or what you are doing as a parent, as a person.
Have some compassion for yourself in a time where the tribe you are comparing yourself to is the world. And just take a moment today to be. Just be with your kids. Just be with the mess. Just be with the fear. Just be with the hugs and the tears, the highs and lows. Just be.
Here’s to all the humans in the world today!! May you know you are the best you ever!!!!
(aka JP Starre)
* We will be starting a new Possibility Path and The Possibility Path for Parents this June!! If you are ready to understand your children and your family at a deep level, feel more confident and prepared than you ever have before, and find direction in your life, then, schedule your free discovery call today!
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