Dear “Perfect” Parent:
In the world of parenting, there are really only two teams: Team Perfect and Team Lazy. I confess. I’m on Team Lazy. But it didn’t start off like that. Before the birth of my first child, I had every intention of joining Team Perfect. I decided to stay at home to raise my precious snowflake. I pored over every baby advice book I could get my hands on. I had a free-range, all-natural delivery, baptized by loud wailing and blood-curdling pain. I sanitized everything in the house with bleach, including my husband and the kitchen sink. I gave up caffeine so that I could feed him good, wholesome breast milk (my baby, not my husband). I carried my baby everywhere and rocked him to sleep. I crept around like a cat burglar while he napped. I rushed to his room the moment I heard him stir. I created an elaborate spreadsheet that tracked every doctor’s office visit, feeding, sleep times, wet diapers and bowel movements. For that first month, I could have been the captain of Team Perfect. Hell, I owned Team Perfect.
And then, tragedy struck. My grizzled old doctor informed me very matter-of-factly that my baby boy was crying all the time because he wasn’t getting enough to eat. I was forced to join the ranks of the “lazy” parents everywhere by supplementing my son’s pure breastfed diet with a poison called “FORMULA.” I was horrified. It didn’t matter that my son had the nerve to actually gain weight and stop crying on formula. I was a terrible parent that was going to be ejected from Team Perfect. I would be scorned by on-line parents everywhere.
Despite the formula mishap, I tried to maintain my Team Perfect membership. I didn’t allow my son to watch any television. I never fed him anything with sugar. I made sure that I read him at least ten books a day. I interacted with him ALL DAY LONG, because studies showed that conducting daily dissertations on our surroundings and show tune performances would guarantee my toddler an admission to Harvard. So, I talked and I sang (off-key), and I talked and I sang (still off-key), until I wanted to tell myself to shut up. My son would occasionally run away from me when he was tired of hearing my (off-key) voice.
The slippery descent into laziness began one particularly fussy day. It was a warm, sunny afternoon in the month of June. The birds were chirping and perfect little children were frolicking in parks across the land. Despite my beautifully constructed Team Perfect plans, my almost two year old son was NOT behaving like the perfect child of a perfect mother. Instead, he was fighting the designated tooth brushing time with the vigor of a rabid raccoon. Out of sheer desperation, I turned to my phone and pulled up a YouTube video. He remained mesmerized for FIVE WHOLE MINUTES. I could actually brush his teeth without getting slapped, kicked or bitten. I took my first steps towards Team Lazy. Five minutes can’t hurt, right? And it’s an Elmo video. At least it’s educational. From then on, I used that video to get my son to sit still for tooth brushing. And for nail clipping. And for when I cooked. And for just about anything that I needed to get done.
By the time I had baby number two, I was a card-carrying member of Team Lazy. My strong-willed toddler son had broken my spirit. I was just too tired to care about being on Team Perfect. You want to eat that food on the floor? Fine, go ahead and eat it. You want to lick the tire of that truck on display at the mall? Consider it your vaccination for the day. You want to watch a thirty-minute Elmo video? Please, for the love of God, watch a thirty-minute Elmo video. I just don’t care anymore. My final ejection from Team Perfect occurred when I unapologetically loaded up on formula and baby food jars while pushing my newborn daughter IN A STROLLER through a conventional grocery store. Perfect mothers with perfectly slung babies in organic grocery stores across the nation gasped in collective horror when they sensed this disturbance in the force. One of their former members had left Team Perfect to join the ranks of the enemy.
So, there you have it. That’s the story of how I abandoned Team Perfect and doomed my children to a shiftless life of utter despair. There is one bright spot. All of the money that I used to spend on organic food has been diverted to a fund for the trailer that I’ll have to purchase for my jobless, homeless children. I don’t want them living in my basement, but they can live on my front lawn.
A Proud Member of Team Lazy