All over the news there are stories about the inferior quality and nature of American parenting. We are lazy and too indulgent, etc. The French are better at it. The Chinese are better at it. Basically, any animal in the animal kingdom is better at parenting than us silly Americans. Phew! I am relieved that I can finally blame my sub-standard parenting on my nationality instead of myself.
I suffer from a perpetual inferiority complex. Everyone I meet is smarter, funnier, prettier, thinner, a better wife, mother, daughter, etc. So, imagine my relief when I discover that my parenting is no worse than any other ugly American parents'.
Of course, I learned of my tragic parenting flaws while surfing the web (and neglecting my children, of course). Maybe if I slap a beret on my kids, sit in a cafe and let them smoke cigarettes, drink cafe and vino all day, they will be better children. Or maybe I should make them spend all day mastering their Chinese characters while sipping ancient herbal teas.
I am a stay-at-home mom of a school-aged daughter and not-quite-school-age son. I am passionate about my family, friends, writing, running and crafts. I'm a regular mom trying to survive the crazy world of parenthood.
I already doubt myself as a parent every waking (and most sleeping) moments of every day. Now I have to worry about other countries thinking I am a bad parent? Maybe it's a lack of proper Feng Shui in my home. But, let's face it. I have 2 children running around my Feng-less Shui-less abode. Any rearranging of the elements of my home is done by small children or for their safety. Or my sanity.
My house is still baby proofed even though my youngest is almost 4. I still have a bumper guards around my coffee table -- but more for my sake than his. I got tired of banging my shins on it's razor sharp edges. He learned to skirt around it before he was 18 months old. I have owned the table for 12 years and still bang my knees and shin on it most nights.
My Feng Shui is battered and bruised. My couch is misaligned and lets the energy flow out of the room but offers a great view of the TV. And the couch still has pee pads on it on the off chance that my son forgets that he is potty trained. I am OK with the flow of energy. There is more than enough energy flowing through my house while my kids are awake.
The ancient Eastern decorating technique/philosophy isn't exactly convenient or practical in my Midwestern home. My philosophy is simple. Can the kids destroy it? Will it hold up to whatever crazy game they invent? Can they injure themselves on it or with it? Is it easy to clean or fix? The energy may flow right out the front door but at least my kids can't run out the front door unsupervised.
As for wind chimes to enhance the creativity in my home, do I really need more of my kids' wacky ideas? One kid wants his best friend to live in our bathtub. The other kid thinks mommy should get an apartment nearby so she can finally have a pet. See what I am up against here? Besides, how on earth can anyone find something whose sole purpose in life is to make noise enjoyable? How is that supposed to bring me serenity, harmony and peace?
A quiet house is my dream. Listening to some pipes bang together in a rhythmic metallic clanking sounds like torture to me. My kids and their toys make enough noise. Thank you.
There is also a belief about the placement of a mirror in the bedroom and it letting your soul float out of your body and scare itself. Ok, of the things that scare me at night in my bedroom, some invisible version of me haunting myself doesn't even rank in the top ten. My kids bursting in at 2 a.m. in a quest for a lost beloved stuffed animal or vomit covered, my husband setting off the burglar alarm accidentally, a random bug or insect - these things scare me.
My kids have their own version of Feng Shui going in our house. Sara's philosophy is to keep everything she has ever owned or been given. She is a hoarder. And she prefers to keep everything out in plain sight rather than waste valuable time searching for things. She leans more towards the "more is better" style.
Christian likes to organize and group things according to some system only he understands. Again, all toys, games and books must be visible at all times. He prefers the obstacle-course style of decorating.
Maybe I can convince my husband to rearrange large and heavy pieces of furniture randomly around the house to enhance my chakras, channel my inner-energy and creativity and get my chi flowing the in the right direction. Who am I kidding? Until I can convince my kids to clean up after themselves, nothing is getting rearranged in my house.
My husband already believes that rearranging his junk in the garage qualifies as "cleaning out" the garage. I have pretended to fall for this for 12 years.
Maybe the French and Chinese are better parents. Maybe I should slap a beret on my kid and feed him Brie. Maybe I should start feeding my kids sushi and using chopsticks. But, America is the land of the free and I get to raise my kids the way I want.
To read more from Barb, visit My Crazy Life - Live, Laugh, Love