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I am currently reassessing the things I do for the kids and the things I expect them to do. Mind you, I don’t do this on some sort of a schedule, like an end of the month inventory check. I tend to do it after a morning like this one when, for example, I find myself fighting a toilet clog of the magnitude that makes me actually turn to count my kids and hope that my sarcastic “did you fall in, or what?” comment remains just that and not an accurate depiction of the situation. The kind that makes me wonder if they have foregone toilet paper and are now flushing t-shirts and jeans… The kind that comes from days of not taking care of their bathroom or letting me know that there is a clog…

Nothing keeps the kiddos away and gives a mom time to think like said mom in a bathrobe screaming modified cuss words as she furiously plunges a porcelain bowl… And nothing gets the creative juices flowing like the challenge of quickly modifying all the choice words that are rushing to escape one’s lips in such a moment of shear, unadulterated, sleep deprived, frustration in an effort to avoid future unpleasant phone calls from the school…or the parents of the other innocent cherubs one’s child might later encounter. It doesn’t help when the words are doubling up in a couple of languages, either… I recall my husband saying in the past, “well, even if they do cuss in Italian, nobody here will understand.”

“True,” I countered. “But when we take them over to Italy to visit your grandmother in the nursing home…you know, the one run by the nuns, we might regret it.”

“They don’t even know what ‘c___o’ means,” he insisted.

“Isn’t that like the F word?” asked the five-year-old who had crept up behind us in the meantime, conveniently driving home my point…yet at the same time making me wonder, how the heck does she know what the F word is? (On a side note…once I had worked up the courage to ask…I discovered that her “F word” was “Frick”…whew).

But, I digress… Where was I? Ah yes, the reassessment. This time it happened to involve my tendency to cave and do chores that have gone undone past my limit of tolerance. Not a good plan, I know, but in my defense there really never is any planning involved at all…I just reach my limit and before I even realize what I am doing I have loaded the rest of the dishes into the dishwasher…or vacuumed up the life sized dog-hair tumble weeds under the table. In my plunging fury, I resolved to, instead, drag whoever had the chore in question out of bed (usually the same repeat offender…who will remain blog anonymous, but who will be obvious to anyone who knows us personally) to complete the job. Oh…and from this moment on they will take turns on toilet clog inspection details so as to avoid the clog physically stretching to the water treatment plant before I am made aware of it… There… Parenting tweaked… for now.

Though I have been trying to cut down, I do occasionally still read the parenting/guilt/instructional articles that pop up on my feed. You know…the ones that blatantly tell me that I am doing everything all wrong by letting my children wander… NOT letting my children wander… following a schedule… NOT following a schedule… watching them TOO closely… NOT WATCHING THEM CLOSELY ENOUGH… NOT CHECKING UP ON THEM… WAIT! NOT GIVING THEM ENOUGH PRIVACY. OH MY LORD! I AM RUINING THE LIVES OF MY PRECIOUS CHILDREN!!!! Yes, despite the anxiety attacks they may cause, I do still occasionally read them, but only when equipped with a shaker’s worth of salt…because sometimes a grain just won’t cut it. After all, you never know where you will find a good idea or two that can be gleaned and modified to fit your individual children.

And that, my friends, is my point…in a really round about kind of way. I don’t think there is a right way and a wrong way that fits all of our children. I don’t think we should spend our time constantly judging the decisions of other parents (within reason…if that illusive thing called common sense still exists…I mean, obviously, if you know that someone is putting their children in real danger: please feel free to judge…and maybe even let someone know.) What I am referring to is the constant stream of knit-picking and criticizing that I see and hear around me about other people’s parenting. Is there no better way to offer suggestions than to shame somebody else with a comment or an article à la “to the parent not playing with their child at the park” or “to the mother of the child having a fit in the grocery store”. Raising a child is not a sprint. It’s a marathon! If you see me nose diving on mile three, hows about you extend a hand and some good old fashioned encouragement instead of snapping an embarrassing picture of me with your phone to post on Instagram and shaming me for falling?

And while we are at it…how about we all take a deep breath and recognize that nobody has all the answers, and that something that works with one child may not necessarily work with another…and may not even work a second time on the first kid? How about we smile at the mom in the grocery store standing in front of the toddler writhing on the floor to let her know that we get it? How about we recognize that sometimes parenting is like a game of whack-a-mole and that we may need to reassess and tweak our strategies each time a new mole pops up?

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