I remember back in high school I wished everything was as sure as glitter eye shadow being here to stay. It took me a long time to sort out why trying was uncool. Why the “bad” boys—or girls for that matter—were the cool kids and those who followed the rules and made good grades were the losers. I came eventually to the conclusion that they were afraid. They were afraid that they’d try and fail, but worse that they’d try, fail, and the world would see them do it. So, the clever cool cats that they were they simply created a trend. They made bad good, and trying for dorks. At the time, I choose to do what I damn well pleased and if anyone had any names to say about it, I’d flip them an unmanicured finger salute before moving on, whether it left me no friends but my Tamagotchi or not.
It took me an even longer to realize that this same phenomenon had infected parents. I mean, second to teenagers, who is more afraid to fail than a parent? More sure that they have failed when they likely haven’t? Out of all that self-doubt and guilt dripped the birth of “bad moms” (or dads), and suddenly trying as a parent was bad, and not the leather jacket and sunglasses kind of bad either. It was the you-can’t-sit-at-our-table of parenting—go sit with your Pinterest list.
At first I chuckled at the growing popularity of what once was deemed bad parenting. I even rejoiced that suddenly my crumb covered floors and occasional use of video game bribery was normal and even celebrated. People were finally admitting that parenting was hard, and it was ok not to be all Betty Crocker and Suzie about it. I suppose that’s what helped the bad parent trend really bloom, it was relatable. It excused behaviors that deep down we felt guilty about.
And, that’s the problem.
We never should have felt guilty about those things in the first place. As usual, we took what should have been as simple and turned it into a fuckcluster. All we really ever needed to do was stop and recognize that there is no measuring stick in parenting. There is no right or wrong way to do it, because you, your family, your kids, your situation, your whole life is not the same as Betty or Suzie’s. The only person who can judge whether you’re doing it right is you. Whether you spend 6 hours cooking 12 dozen homemade gluten-free cookies for the school fundraiser with your homegrown eggs and all organic ingredients or you’re just happy you managed to not burn this morning’s Eggos, you’re doing it right if you fucking say so. I don’t care how after-school-special it sounds, trying is enough, and if you feel you failed, try again. You’re not a bad parent, and for once, I wish we’d just keep it simple (stupid). Let good be good, bad be bad, and raise our own kids without judging others or feeling the need to tear down how others are choosing to raise theirs.