It’s only when you get a few women together that you realise when it comes to raising kids, everybody seems to think that the person next to them is doing a better job than they are!
Somewhere between our grandmother’s time and here we’ve captioned child-rearing as being the most important job of all. For fear having children wasn’t taxing enough over a generation or two we’ve created parameters, rights and wrongs, do’s and don’ts, to beat ourselves up with. It’s no longer enough to carry a baby and deliver it safely after 9 months incubation. Now it matters ‘how’ they were delivered. The naturals pointing fingers at the too posh to push gang and the too posh to push gang, perhaps justifyingly, complicating recovery after a complicated delivery by proving their mettle and breastfeeding at all costs. That’s right, it’s not enough anymore to vow to feed your baby, its about, ‘how’ you feed the baby, because let’s face it, when they’re four and scoffing chicken nuggets and fizzy sweets at a birthday party, the breast feed babies stand out a mile, not!
Then enter the greatest differentiator of all among parents, the spoon-feed. A fully stocked aisle of baby food isn’t enough anymore, you need to slog over a food processor for hours with a range of colourful organic ingredients to ensure your child gets the best, thus to prove you are the best, because that is what this is about, being the best parent, you can be.
And it doesn’t stop there, nursery school starts in Doha at 18 months and for those that choose not to spend a thousand euro a month to send their child into the hotbed of germs, the worried nursery moms, will casually inquire, aren’t your worried about your child being socialised? Doesn’t help that said child is likely to be licking the windows of the car as all eyes turn to him. ‘not at all’, I always reply.
And then the biggie descends when the kids start school, stay-at-home or work, which are you? Of course, the working (working here to mean outside of the home and is not to imply or suggest that those not working outside of the home are not indeed, working. Those working inside of the home will hereto not be referred to as working, but rather as ‘stay-at-home’ moms. The terms ‘moms’ here also refers to dads, fathers, stepdads, mams boyfriend) moms think that the stay-at-home moms have parenting down-pat. An understandable assumption, one would think that if one’s sole purpose in life was to facilitate a perfect standard of living for a four-year-old that this would indeed be achievable, particularly if there were no meetings, spreadsheets, deadlines, reports, etc to get in the way. Not always the case though.
The stay-at-home moms, look at the working moms on a pie chart and can clearly see the time segments, 8 hours working, 8 hours sleep and 8 hours at home, and weekends off, sounds like the perfect balance, an absolute dream. Not to mention your own money in your pocket and shared responsibility with spouse for football practice, lost socks and long multiplication homework.
But alas we know that either way, it doesn’t work out that easily. The stay-at-home’s are often, if not usually fighting to find themselves beneath baskets of laundry and the working moms often feel they don’t get the time to do anything well, just everything, half well and ultimately both are under pressure and therefore stressed.
The upshot being that neither end up being the best parent ever, because the best parent ever is comfortable in their skin, happy with their choices and happy with the associated consequences. Doesn’t matter if the kids attend private swimming lessons and get picked up by you, don’t attend private swim lessons and watch EastEnders with you, attend private swim lessons and walk home, what matters is when you are there you were nice, happy, calm and reassuring. So rather than trying to be ‘the best parent’ ever, maybe we need to find and accept the version of ourselves we’re happy with and run with that. The rest will fall into place.