EMILY EDLYNN, PHD, THE ART & SCIENCE OF MOM
truth in parenting
Tearing your hair out over lack of sleep, daycare decisions, homework enforcement, or what to do with the toddler tantrum? Want to feel better about your own tantrum as you try and manage it all? Read my Truth in Parenting blog for some evidence-based reassurance (The Art and Science of . . . ), my own True Mom Confessions, and some psychologist expertise (The Dr. Is In). Not sure where to start? Try here.
Taking a step back, our children’s growth and learning should encompass a whole lot more than reading comprehension and math computation. Maybe we should ask ourselves what other types of learning get to happen BECAUSE of summer break.
In writing and sharing this, I hope it sends out a sort of bat signal of support and compassion to all other parents struggling in the temperament equivalent of crossfit training. I’m sorry. It’s hard. It’s okay to not be “perfect” because it’s really exhausting and you’re doing your best. And you’re not alone.
I would venture to say (very non-scientifically) that becoming a mother may be the biggest risk factor for sleep problems. Think about it – from pregnancy hormones, discomfort, and worry, to the newborn “sleep” cycle totally incompatible with feeling human, to 4-year-olds running screaming into your room at 2 a.m. (oh is that just mine? It’s like a horror movie scene every time), to worrying about your teenage kids not home yet, our children hijack our sleep.
Feeding our children sounds as basic and instinctual to parenting as loving them. But from the often surprising struggles with breastfeeding, to the mixed messages around how to be “healthy,” feeding our children has become another land mine of parenting anxiety. Balancing experts and science with reality, I offer ways we can all nurture our children’s bodies without losing our minds.
We need to start with the cold, hard truth that the word "vacation" does not apply. Managing young children in travel and new environments is a feat of hard labor.
I also seize opportunities to talk about how everyone is born with a different body shape and it’s cool that we all look unique. I have even tried my best to shield my girls from watching adored female celebrities in their skimpy outfits, flaunting and glamorizing body shapes unattainable by most. Yet, my 6-year-old said she didn’t want to be fat and my 9-year-old is dissatisfied with being “skinny.” UGH.
By building up and uniting mothers, are we perpetuating the very complaint that fathers don’t do their part? Are we leaving out fathers and then wishing they would do more?
We knew it was going to be a tougher conversation than we were used to, but I was not prepared for how I felt as the mother hearing my preschooler son talked about this way.
On Wednesday night, I felt like I had to make a choice: either I respond to my daughter’s emotional needs at the sacrifice of my emotional well-being, or I ignore her to take what I needed. And that’s how it feels – TAKING, which feels selfish, which is against every cultural ideal of how a mother should be.
I think this is why the end of the kindergarten year strikes with such emotion. They are growing up, out, and away from us.
So when we can work with our kids to face and do what makes them nervous, we deprive anxiety of oxygen, and build their confidence in themselves.
My personal weaknesses aside, all of this brings up the bigger parenting question: where does my license to share as a parent end, and my child’s right to decide what images and information are out there, begin?