Like many parents our age, my husband and I suddenly realized we turned into “Them”. You know, “them”? Those faceless, nameless people you swore you’d never be like? The ones that haven’t opened a newspaper in three months, but can tell you all about the side effects of a Dimetapp overdose. The ones that care more about the latest gossip kicked around PTA meetings, than about what the stock market is doing. The ones that drive around with honor roll stickers on their minivan’s bumper, and send mass emails about the dangers that lurk in food coloring. The ones that roll their eyes when you mention words like “sleep” and “bar”. Yeah, those people.
And the worst part of it is; we can no longer feel sorry for the bedraggled woman in front of us at the supermarket, just because all her kids are screaming and one of them blows his nose in his hand. After all, our son ran into the backyard this morning wearing nothing but a smile, and just the other day, he bit his sister without any provocation whatsoever. No more feeling superior, no more thinking: “We would do that differently if we were parents.” We are parents, and we’re not doing things differently at all.
We have changed teams.
Luckily, now that we’re in our forties, we are no longer concerned about our image the way we were twenty years ago. Or are we? Have we really matured beyond caring about how things look? Perhaps we stopped worrying about the right Nikes, only to start obsessing over the right parenting style. This, after all, is the information age; the thought that we might not have access to all the answers is simply inconceivable.
So we hit the books, we observe and discuss, we analyze and we fret. Surely, if we study hard enough, we can master this impossible task; just like in college, where, if you flunked your class, it was usually your own fault. Failure was the consequence of being too lazy, engaging in too much partying, giving in to too many distractions. Then, when things looked really dire, you’d give yourself a swift kick in the butt, cancel all your social obligations, and pull your grades up. Our generation grew up with the adage: you can do anything if you just work hard enough. We Google our day-to-day parenting conundrums, hoping that next website will give us all the answers, or at least tell us we’re O.K.
The problem is, we are not in college anymore, and parenting is not a Major with a clearly outlined curriculum. If only someone would design an app for this.
Written by Annette Wright