It's amazing how much unsolicited advice a person attracts once they become a parent.
You name it, and there is someone out there who has an opinion about the best way and the worst way to do it.
There is nothing too small to evade scrutiny.
Everything you do. Everything your kid does. Everything you do because your kid did something becomes part of a discussion that is so big it seems to envelope the world.
And it usually starts with a problem … “The problem with kids today ...”
Trouble is the problem doesn't always end with a workable solution.
The problem is other kids … parents ... schools ... teachers ... politicians … government … bullies ... guns ... boredom ... drugs ... corporate giants ... factory farms … car emissions ... toys from China … calculators ... computers … the internet …
The list is so big it can't easily fit on a bumper sticker (which, truth-be-told, is the place all the best advice is usually filed – second only to the flip file under the kitchen sink).
More and more I'm thinking the problem is a construct of our imaginations.
A good portion of the time, though, it's our interpretation of a stranger's sideways glance or our mother-in-law's two cents that have us squinting in rage and spitting venom. It's not the event itself.
The problem is we want to be the seekers of knowledge and not have knowledge foisted upon us.
You only need to think about all those gift guides we poured over for Mother's Day and Father's Day to know just how useful that was.
“Thanks for the ruffle “up-cycled” apron and the book of iphone pictures of me barbecuing. I will cherish it forever.”
That's not to say that we shouldn't seek help, or that we shouldn't look for ways to solve the problems that vex us. It's just that maybe we should do so with the understanding that the answers we find might not be one-size fits all.
We just have to be willing to understand that if the answers differ for all of us, we are probably all a little bit different.
The thing – above all others – that has surprised me about parenthood is how much my children have taught me about being not only a parent, but also a person.
It's more than handling the grocery shopping meltdowns and helping them solve their own school yard crises. It's more than fretting about the future and all the what-ifs.”
It's right now.
It's in the moment.
It's just doing the best you can and having faith that tomorrow will present a new moment.
In so many ways, it's tuning out all of the noise that makes us doubt ourselves.
The more I think of it the more I see that the only real opinion that matters – the only proof of effectiveness – will come from our kids … when they are our age, with children of their own.
And then … well ...
Then we will give our grandchildren cake for breakfast and wax nostalgic about "kids in our day."