What Is the Model Parent?
I've been reading a lot about parenting styles lately, and I've come to a conclusion: Most of them don't work for me. Why? Because so many of them are about sacrifice and martyrdom ... and I'm not up for either.
I mean, really: To be a Good Parent these days, you're supposed to breastfeed until your baby is ready to wean; what you want doesn't matter. You're supposed to stay at home so that "someone else isn't raising your child"—a ridiculous accusation that makes me want to spit nails—even if you'd rather be pursuing a career. You're supposed to let your kid sleep in your bed, even if his kicking keeps you up all night.
None of this works for me. I couldn't deal with giving up of all the things I personally need—space in my bed, for instance, or work that fulfills me, even if it's outside the home—in order to make sure my kids grow up happy and healthy. I just can't believe that's the only way.
Actually, I feel more strongly than that: I think that these sorts of practices send our kids the wrong message. I think they put us parents in the position of being bad role models.
I look at my children—at my daughter, in particular, because she's older, more developed and a girl—and I see all the things I want for her: strength, independence, intelligence, wisdom, serenity, happiness. I see a person who I think will make a difference in the world, do things her own way, make her own life. And I realize that I don't want to raise her to be someone who feels she has to give up who she is as an individual in order to parent her own children.
So many mothers I know are so supremely self-sacrificing, and their children flourish, and for that I admire them. And yet I don't want that for my child. So why should I want it for me? I want my daughter to be whoever she is in addition to being a mommy. I'm not putting all this effort into raising her just so that she can wind up putting her life on hold to raise another child who will grow up and put her life on hold because she wants to be a good mommy, and so on and so on and so on.
And so I'm trying, with all my might, to allow myself to both parent and pursue other outlets, as well, and to forgive myself for my shortcomings in parenting and in life.