I blame social media.
Sites like Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest have morphed into Internet versions of our grandparents; we show them only the best, brightest and most put-together versions of ourselves. We filter reality down until the edges are smooth and the cracks are blurred, perpetuating the endless need for perfection.
Especially when it comes to parenting.
Now that we have the ability to peer into people's lives, regardless of how unrealistic what's inside the window may be, judgment and shaming and swift condemnation come by the comment. Parents are more than aware that each follower or friend is a post away from thinking they're the worst provider to ever procreate. In an attempt to sidestep redundant conversations and possible debates, we fill newsfeeds only with first steps, adorable laughs, perfectly angled after-baby shots and happy family portraits -- all in an attempt to showcase our capabilities as parents.
Because of all this, we feel mounting pressure to be flawless, impeccable guardians, despite the fact that we are nothing if not destined to make mistakes.
Well, I've had enough.
It's exhausting to pretend I'm some Pinterest-worthy, immaculate parent, when the reality is I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing -- and usually, I look downright atrocious trying to do it. I'm a fatally flawed human being, and that didn't change just because I successfully pushed out a 6-lb, 14-oz baby boy.
So, in the spirit of honesty, openness and pure transparency, here are true stories about the first year of parenthood. Some are mine, while others were generously shared by my like-minded and beautifully flawed parent friends:
1. I was once so exhausted I washed my dishes with laundry detergent for two days before even noticing. I thought I had requested more dishwasher pods, but instead I said laundry pods, so when my partner arrived home with a larger container of a different brand, I simply thought he took advantage of a particular sale. Two days later, while loading the dishwasher, he asked why I was using laundry soap to clean our plates.
2. A friend of mine was so terrified of SIDS, she mounted a little mirror directly above her son's head so she could watch him breathe. She couldn't bring herself to sleep more than one or two hours a night, almost completely consumed by fear.
3. I accidentally dropped my cell phone on my baby's face. He was in his bassinet next to our bed, fast asleep, and I was reaching above him to put my phone on the nightstand. A mixture of exhaustion and laziness lead to the phone teetering on the edge, then falling on my child. He woke up crying and I spent the next hour sobbing, convinced I would never cut it as a parent.
4. A friend and single mother fell asleep on the toilet her first day back at work. One minute she was peeing, the next minute concerned restroom patrons were knocking on the stall door, asking if she was OK because they had heard her snoring.
5. While I was changing his diaper, my son peed in his own mouth. I was convinced he'd end up poisoned and had my partner talk me down from calling 911 or, at the very least, poison control. I will admit, I am looking forward to the day I get to share that story on his 18th birthday.
6. A friend's husband accidentally microwaved a bottled beer instead of the French Bread Pizza they had planned on having for dinner.
7. After changing my child's diaper and laying him down for a nap, I decided it was time I took a shower. I went to take my shirt off, lifting it over my head -- oblivious to the poop my son had left behind. I ended up smearing his green, slimy excrement all over my face.
8. When coming home from the hospital, exhausted, a friend of mine told her fiancé to put the baby to bed in the kennel. Of course, she meant to put the baby to bed and let the dog out of the kennel. (Or at least that's what she claims. I could understand either or.)
9. My son was asleep in his swing, so I hooked up the baby monitor and took the opportunity to shower. I heard him crying and raced out of the bathroom, completely naked and soaked. I checked on him, completely forgetting I had opened the blinds earlier that morning. My neighbor enjoyed a free show before he went to work, and I can't look him in the eyes anymore.
10. My friend was holding her newborn daughter in the air, gushing and enamored and telling her how beautiful she was. In response, her daughter threw up all over her face and shirt.
11. After a friend of mine was born, his mother kicked his father out of the house for a few days. Apparently she wasn't too thrilled with him and the part he played in her now-sleep-deprived existence.
If you can relate to any of the above, congratulations! You're human. You're a fantastic parent who, I have no doubt, learns from your mistakes and is wonderful in your faults. You're doing a marvelous job, you're more than capable and you are definitely not alone.
If you can't relate? Oh please, of course you can. Don't lie. I promise, your grandparents -- or the perfected world of social media -- won't be disappointed in you.