“Parenthood, the scariest ‘hood’ you’ll ever go through.” -unknown
I am so grateful that Pinterest did not exist when I started having kids. Maybe we missed out on some amazing themed birthday crafts and incredible ways to cook paleo spiralized zuchinni, but the picture perfect, clean, peaceful #parentinggoals that litter the boards of many new 30 something mommies would have put me over the edge.
Nobody knows what they are doing when they have their first child, or how to navigate the changes each time said first-born enters a new developmental stage. Instinctively we grasp for advice, plans, results that will help us calm the insanity and ensure our eight years olds will get into Harvard. The internet is awash with companies making major money off of those fears and anxieties by advertising these ‘perfect plans’ for childrearing, and simple ways to ‘be the woman you are expected to be,’ a lovely, polished, successful career wife and mother who still finds time every day for Pilates and a 5 mile run before cooking an organic non-GMO meal for her adoring and grateful tribe. No pressure…
After 20 years of parenting, I know better than this, but the marketing is still appealing to me, and I often have to catch myself before I spiral into a quest for perfection that is not real.
My Pinterest was the women around me. It still is. Some are the same age with kids in the same stages, some are a few years ahead, and some have reached that gracious stage where they were no longer striving and straining for accomplishment as a parent, but simply giving what they had learned generously and peacefully. They gave me confidence to go boldly into the dark alleyways of parenting where you never knew what was around the corner, from beautiful surprises (the smell of a sleeping baby’s head) to the insane (too many to mention… but I will never forget the first time I calmly told my boys “We do not throw tomatoes at each other in the living room….”).
Then there are the teenage years. You think you are exhausted by the unmitigated pressure to keep toddlers alive and little kids safe, but your teenagers introduce you to a new kind of crazy that you can’t always keep them safe from- emotional pain, spiritual turbulence and moral mistakes. It’s like your heart is living in someone else, loving, guiding, praying, hoping for the best and crying with them through the worst.
When I came across the Messy Parenting Facebook page, their tag line caught me instantly: “Parenting is not a clean-cut, simple process for those who like to follow the rules. Parenting is messy and unpredictable, but it is the greatest adventure.” Amen! Shout it loud!
Clicking over to the Messy Parenting website run by Mike & Alicia Hernon, parents of 10 (yes, they’re Catholic) I found a resource of articles and podcasts that didn’t give 10 foolproof steps to a 4.0 GPA, but true wisdom, passed down from the church and experienced parents. A goldmine of resources on everything from busyness (subtitled “If the devil cannot make us bad, he will make us busy.”) to chastity, evangelizing as a family, cooking, marriage, and my favorite title, “Raising confident kids who aren’t full of themselves.”
These podcasts and articles are like sitting down to coffee with a wise friend who is sharing what they have learned. They aren’t a roadmap to perfect parenting, but they are like street signs and scenic spots a friend is pointing out so you can look them for on your own personal journey and wander down to enjoy the view from your own vantage point, no Pinterest needed.
Check them out at www.messyparenting.com .