By: Shannon Ralph
I used to think I was a pretty good parent. In my blissful ignorance, I thought my three children were fairly happy, well-adjusted kids. Like most parents, I managed to muddle my way through their tumultuous early years and felt a sense of unbridled accomplishment at having escaped relatively unscathed.
I managed to feed them most days—occasionally there were fruits and vegetables involved. I changed their diapers. Wiped their little bums. They were bathed—not daily, but often enough that they did not garner wrinkled noses and glares of disgust from strangers. I read to them at night. I introduced them to Harry Potter. And Judy Blume. And The Princess Bride. I took them to Renaissance festivals and state fairs and germ-infested children’s museums. I took them to the dentist regularly, even after the first visit ended with us all in tears. I took enough photos to document the important milestones of their childhood, but not so many that high school classmates de-friended me on Facebook. I cuddled them. A lot. I tucked them in at night with kisses and wishes for sweet dreams. I covered all the bases as a parent.
Or so I thought.
Then I signed up for a Pinterest account. Suddenly, my previously down-played failings as a parent became glaringly obvious. Try as I might, I am no longer able to ignore my inadequacies. I now recognize my children’s sweet smiles and contagious giggles for what they really are—mere smokescreens hiding a deep-seated despair. I am, honestly, not sure how they have managed to survive to this point.
Thanks to Pinterest, I have been able to identify the top 12 ways I am completely failing as a parent. As a public service, I will share them with you here:
- Not a single tree in my yard (front or back) has a fairy door. Sure, my children have Santa Claus. And the Easter Bunny. And they do have the Tooth Fairy, so they are not living an entirely fairy-less life. But how in the world can I expect my children to develop that all-imperative sense of whimsy that the world will later beat out of them if I do not invite a multitude of fairies to take up residence in my yard? This oversight on my part in both egregious and unforgivable.
- I have never whittled my children a rustic wooden toy from the branch of a Canadian Rock Maple tree I lovingly plucked from an organic tree farm. I have, however, endured the screams that emanated from my daughter’s lips the last time she had a splinter that needed to be removed. Those screeches are forever tattooed on my ear canals.
- I’ve never made homemade organic blueberry and raspberry polka dotted fruit leather. Ummm….a box of Fruit Roll-ups® costs exactly $2.04 at Target right now. Sometimes, I splurge and get two. But it’s okay. It’s not like I’m saving for my kids’ college educations or anything like that.
- I have never given my children homemade fortune cookies with affectionate notes inside. I did put a note in my son’s lunch box once though. It said “If you lose THIS pair of gloves, your fingers WILL fall off when you develop frostbite!”
- I did not know “50 Genius Hacks for Potty Training.” Nor did I know “10 Songs to Help with Potty Training.” Nor “The 5 Biggest Potty Training Mistakes” (though I suspect I managed to hit all five of those). My children’s potty training—which did not occur until age 4¾ with two thirds of my children—consisted of M&M bribes, crying, screaming, shameless begging, and unintelligible rants. And that was just me.
- Vegan, gluten-free chickpea nuggets. What are these things? And can I get them from the McDonalds’ drive-thru?
- Paleo cauliflower tater tots. Can these really be called “tater” anything? I suspect there are no “taters” in them. Though I rightfully feel guilty for having never made these for my children, I must admit to also feeling a bit vindicated in my knowledge that their name is a total misnomer.
- Homemade tootsie rolls using raw honey, coconut oil, and organic powdered sugar. Why, people? For the love of God, why? Why mess with something as innately indefectible as the classic Tootsie Roll®?
- I do not buy coconut oil. I understand from Pinterest that there are no fewer that 101 uses for this magical elixir. With coconut oil, I could make homemade deodorant, a natural diaper cream, my own Mayo, coconut lotion, homemade sunscreen, coffee creamer. Topically, it fights yeast infections, assuages hemorrhoids, soothes nursing nipples, treats psoriasis, reduces varicose veins. I can season my cast iron skillets with coconut oil. It cures split ends. It whitens teeth. I mean, what does this stuff NOT do? And, more importantly, why are people putting hemorrhoid cream in their coffee?
- Vegan, gluten-free homemade Ding Dongs. Who knew this was a thing? Certainly not me. And, I would guess, not Hostess. I wonder, are they meant to be ingested or used topically? I’m never sure…
- I have never made my children homemade sparkle play dough. Nor have I made homemade gluten-free moon sand. Nor kinetic sand. Nor Galaxy dough. Nor homemade slime. We have never made play dough mandalas with edible pumpkin spice dough. My poor, pitiful children have only ever known the inadequate joy of Hasbro Play-Doh®—and only when momma was in her most Zen-like state. On my less than Zen days, that detestable shit does NOT come out of the closet.
- My incorporation of Mason jars into my parenting tactics is woefully lacking. We do not have a Privilege Jar. We do not have an I-Caught-You-Being-Good Jar. There is not a single Quiet Time Calming Glitter Jar anywhere in my house. No Sparkly Fairy Jars. I have yet to make a Family Commitment Jar. Nor a Vocabulary Jar. Nor a Terrarium Jar. We have no Fireworks-in-a-Jar. No Tornado-in-a-Jar. No Hurricane-in-a-Jar. As a matter of fact, we have no major weather events in jars anywhere in this house. And this fact makes me sad. I am completely missing the whole jar bandwagon and we all know who is suffering as a result. That’s right. My children are the ones who suffer. Every day. In numerous ways made increasingly obvious by Pinterest.
Thank you, Pinterest. Thanks for everything.