Back in the day before I had kids, I thought I had a pretty clear idea of how I would parent. What I would and would not do. What I would and would not expose my children to. With the best of intentions, I would create a wonderful environment in which my children could flourish and thrive.
With this in mind, I declared (--unfortunately out load and within ear-shot of other people, including my mother) that…
- My kids would not wear stereotypical, color-coded pink and blue clothes. It would be primary colors all the way!
- My kids would never use a pacifier, or become attached to a blankie. (afterall, they would just be attached to me).
- In our home, we would not have room for Barney or Disney or any of the other commercialized toys that are incessantly marketed to kids.
- No plastic!! Only wooden and natural toys.
- No fast food, especially McDonald’s.
- And right up there on top of the list: absolutely NO Barbie anything. Period.
Of course, I had Barbies when I was growing up. In fact, I loved them. (loved them). But now that I would be a parent, I was not going to expose my kids to the completely unattainable and unhealthy ideals of beauty that Barbie represented. For god-sake, I had a master’s degree in woman studies… I was prepared to be super-natural, holistic (read: granola) mama! My home would be different dammit.
And then something happened. Something that changed everything…
I had kids.
(Seriously. What was I thinking?? Did I think I'd be raising my kids in a plastic bubble?)
Nuks, pink, blue, happy meals, disney, dora…Yup, we’ve pretty much done it and watched it and had it all at our house. Of course, I haven’t abandoned all of my pre-kid ideals. I still want those things for my kids. I still believe in what those ideals represent. And more often than not, we actually do live by those values. But, now I think the idealist and the realist in me are seeing a little more eye to eye. I can only do my best. And I am doing just that. My best.
I must admit though, I was still clinging to one of my pre-kid declarations. We were still living in a Barbie-free household. I was holding out, despite Anna screaming “I WANT THAT” whenever a commercial came on advertising Glitter Barbie or Boob-job Barbie or Botox Barbie.
I was strong. I was resolute. I was determined. No Barbie.
Yes, I know it is only a bike, but it is a BARBIE bike. I figure it is all downhill from here…
(I found it on Craig’s list. Really cheap. Barely used. Anna’s Christmas present…. And, okay…I admit it. When push comes to shove, a really good deal can often trump my high minded ideals).
My mother-in-law (whom I love!) visited recently and described our household as “chaos.” Granted, she has a pretty strict behaviorist viewpoint on child-rearing (which is diametrically opposed to my "free-style" form of parenting). In some ways, maybe it is chaos around here. But, you know what? It is my chaos. My life. Our life as a family. I love my kids unconditionally and they know it. They really know it. I’m confident the rest will fall into place, imperfections and all. Plus letting my kids be exposed to all of those things that I don't really love have made for some pretty amazing and insightful conversations between us.
I think that is where the real parenting happens.
So, happily (and with great relief), I’m making it official: I’m off the hook! I’m embracing the chaos. Guilt-be-gone. I’m done. And despite all my mommy flaws, my kids are amazing, kind, respectful and loving little people. Really, what more could I ask for.
(Hey, I wonder if I could still consider us Barbie–free if Santa brought the bike…)