Navigating through the never-ending maze of motherhood can be, well, hard. There, I said it. Being a parent is really, really hard sometimes. Anyone who tells you otherwise is likely lying or drunk or wrapped in a thick blanket of sweet denial. Unless your name is Mary Poppins or you're an actual toddler-whisperer, there is no such thing as an easy day when you're a mom. You'd sooner find a purple unicorn dealing drugs in the suburbs than you would find a mother that describes her days as a "walk in the park." That's not to say there are no easy days, or no easy moments within all days; those usually do exist
Thankfully, however, for those of us parenting in 2015, help is only but a swipe a way for most moms (at least, for those of us with ready access to tech devices that keep us connected to not only the might power of Google, but to innumerable online parenting groups, which I will now take a moment to acknowledge as being a huge privilege: It is a huge freaking privilege, and it's never lost on me that I have access to all of that, whereas so many moms don't).
I'll be the first to admit that I have little shame in seeking the counsel of my peers when I'm in a parenting pickle. Isn't that what friends and hundreds of casual Facebook acquaintances are for? If not for the occasional self-esteem boost (don't pretend like you don't have self-esteem boosters in your friends list), then for their parenting hacks, fails, and condolences? Who could blame you? Unfortunately, sometimes isolation accompanies the joy that comes with becoming a mom. Sure, we love our kids unconditionally and all but when we're covered in pureed peas and snot, running on maybe two hours of open-eyed sleep, rocking our babies to the point that our moves resemble Zumba, and our kids still won't stop crying, it's time to call in reinforcements.
Have no shame in your search for secrets — we've all crowdsourced other moms for the following at some point. The following things are definitely on the list of parenting issues most of us could never face without sourcing the infinite wisdom of the Internet Parent Hivemind.
I am only beginning to understand the perils that accompany potty training, yet I've cleaned up enough urine to list it as a qualification on my resume and my kid has still yet to conquer the commode. I need all the help, secrets, and voodoo that I can get.
Toddler Fight Club
Look, I know that the first rule of Fight Club is to not talk about Fight Club but my face is in jeopardy here. Most children lack the ability to use their words, and often resort to using their fists, heads, and bodies to express their emotional turmoil. And while the uppercut on my 2-year-old is most impressive for someone of his stature (and it reassures me of his safety in dark daycare allies), it is not OK to use his tiny fists as negotiating tools in real life. While I'm aware that this is a phase, I really need to know how long this said "phase" lasts so I can relinquish the use of my bicycle helmet inside.
What Kind Of Black Magic Does It Take To Convince Toddlers To Eat Vegetables?
At what age do children suddenly develop pallets that resemble that of Anthony Bourdain and opinions that rival Michael Moore? Um, just yesterday carrots were the bomb-dot-com but today they're reason enough to file emancipation papers? What gives, kids?
Speech (Or Lack Thereof)
Some kids seem to know their ABC's immediately after being born, some are too shy to recite such songs, and some quote Samuel L. Jackson to their great grandparents during lunch. I'm not sure that my grandmother understood my son's "Hold on to your butts" reference, but I was quite impressed with his Jurassic Park knowledge. Anyway, I just need to know where every other kid on the planet is at in their language development so I can know how terrified or smug to be according to where my kid falls. Is that so much to ask?
To school or not to school, and how exactly one should carry out such schooling, is the question. We all want the best education possible for our minis, but the education system in America is, um, confused. We've got options, and we're willing to explore them all before we send our kids to some snack shack on the corner that repeatedly plays Back To The Future as a means to teach life lessons (no offense, Michael Fox).
The Emotional Spectrum Of Children
Each morning, they're perfect, heavenly angels that prompt thoughts of sugar plums and ovulation, but by night, they're reason for binge drinking and contemplation of procuring a hasty tubal ligation. As if convincing a man to put down the toilet seat wasn't torturous enough, now we have to negotiate with tiny terrorists with no concept of reasonable demands about Cheerios and fruit snacks. At some point, it becomes essential to ask other moms to weigh in on your kid's insane mood swings, if only to reassure you that it is, in fact, normal to hide in your bathroom for half an hour at a time.
Sleep Training, Sleep Walking, And Sleep Deprivation
Cry it out or rock it out? Scheduled naps or spontaneous narcosis? Co-sleeping or independent sleeping? Most parents know that sleep is actually the key to eternal life, everlasting happiness, or just sane people in general. Little value is placed in sleep until it's presence is absent, then all hell breaks loose when it doesn't show up for roll call. Whether by parental tactics or resentful submission, all kids sleep eventually, even if it's just long enough for mom and dad to brush their teeth, and honestly, I'm not sure how any parent in the history of the world figured out how to get their kid to sleep (and how to get sleep themselves) without asking every other parent they could gain access to.
How Early Is ~Too Early~ To Start Drinking?
Because tantrums and poop.
Various Form Of Birth Control, AKA, How Do I Keep This From Happening Again?
We've all heard the urban legends about getting pregnant while taking birth control, using a condom, via immaculate conception, yada yada yada — we need to know how to lock that sh*t down, like, for real. We love our kids but our maternal ambitions have been fulfilled for now. Are chastity belts still a thing?
How Can We Stay At Home With Our Kids And Make Millions Of Dollars Simultaneously?
It is said that being a mother is the hardest job you will ever love. True, but unless the electric company starts accepting finger-painted turkeys and open-mouthed baby kisses as an acceptable form of currency, actual bills still have to be paid with actual money. Unfortunately, staying at home and raising a family is far from a get-rich-quick scheme and working at home with kids is often counter-productive. If you've mastered mothering and making money all within the comfort of your yoga pants, please write a memoir.
Other versions of this question include "how do I go to work for the 15 hours I need to work today without my child thinking I've abandoned her?" and "is it possible to wear your baby while at the office?"
Breastfeeding, Bottle Feeding, Regurgitation... Whatever. How Do You Feed This Damn Thing?
When you become a mom, you realize breastfeeding is an art. Suddenly our boobs are responsible for more than just filling out our shirts and provoking the unwanted attention of bar trolls. Now they're the holy grail of nutrition for our little ones and using them properly requires skills that aren't taught in Home Economics class. Breastfeeding doesn't always pan out though, and many women are left with bottle of formula and a shot of judgment from the world. Either way, what is and is not normal for everyone is different, but the need to feel normal and adequate as a mother is the same all the way around. And we kinda need to ask our mom friends how to deal with... all of it.
Maternity Leave (Or Lack Thereof)
How do I put this lightly? Maternity leave in America is, well, a joke. What should be a time spent savoring every second of nurturing a newborn is often cut short due to the financial burdens that accompany unpaid maternity leave. Asking your parent friends everything from "what do I do with my newborn if I have to go back to work right away?" to "what are your companies' family leave policies?" to "is it normal that I'm really bored and can't wait to go back to work right now?" is something I'm not sure how we would survive without.
Images: William Iven/Unsplash; Giphy(12)