1. Other parents know what they are doing.
We all have that moment (it lasts about 18 years) when someone hands us our baby for the first time and we think, "what do I do with this?" We wonder how and when and how much to feed the baby. We wonder how much sleep the baby should get. We wonder how often to change or burp the baby. We suddenly realize we need some guidance, so we start asking other parents and reading books because this baby thing must be somewhat standard. It's not.
The truth is that every baby is different. They have different needs. You have different needs from any other parent. You have a different relationship with your baby. This continues for the rest of your life. The reason so many people write books is that when they finally figure out what works with their baby, they feel like they unlocked the magic door. The sad reality is that you have to unlock that magic door for yourself. You have to figure out what works for you and your baby and no one else will know that but you.
And then, you have to unlock that magic door again at every developmental stage and with each new kid at every developmental stage. Good luck!
2. Other parents never get frustrated or angry or yell at their kids.
Why do we think this? At the grocery store, I will see parents desperately trying to get themselves and their kids under control at the same time. I just want to go up to them and say, "let me deal with the angry toddler for a minute. You go outside and yell and scream at the building." Because we have ALL been there. We have all hit the point where we are frustrated with our kid for being a kid and acting like one. We have all been angry at our toddler for acting like a toddler. Soemtimes, that just happens. It doesn't mean you're a bad parent or a mean parent. It means you are human.
If you aren't human, you are probably a questionable choice as a parent. But, humans have irrational moments. We get frustrated. We get angry. We have to work to control ourselves. It's normal.
3. Other people keep their kids clean all the time and do cute things with their hair everyday.
Ha! Have you ever tried to keep a toddler clean, and why? My toddler gets a variety of bath-like experiences every day. I can't imagine what it would take to keep him clean. I think it would involve a dog crate and plexiglass. What kind of parent would keep their kid that clean?
4. Other people's children don't have tantrums in the store.
Simply not true. Admittedly, that 20-year-old without children is going to judge you for your child's tantrum, but she will get hers. All of the other parents just wish they could help because we have been there.
5. Other parents are doing crafts, learning activities, and field trips with their kids.
Nope. Yeah, they took their kids for that cultural event 6 weeks ago and they are talking about it now. But, that was 6 weeks ago. They didn't talk about it at the time because they were so traumatized by the experience. When one kid pooped in the car and the other kid screamed for an hour and then told Grandma she was fat, they couldn't bear to think about it for a while. But, they have spent the last 6 weeks with their kid watching TV while they do the laundry and vacuum the floor, so they start talking about it now to cover.
6. Other parents feed their kids healthy foods which they prepare themselves.
You know, I actually do this. I am really against sugar and soda. I am into home-cooked meals. And still, my kids get sodas and candy. My kids get happy meals and milkshakes. I believe in healthy food, but I also believe in pizza-in-front-of-the-TV night so Mommy can get a break now and again.
7. Other parents are always "on".
You see them. you believe them. The parents who just live for taking care of their kids. Every moment is non-stop play, fun, healthy stuff, psycholocially positive reinforcement, age-appropriate discipline, and loving.
Not even! EVERY parent is involved in reality. Sometimes playtime consists of mom or dad laying on the floor while the kids play around them. Half the time that cultural activity was a trip to the bank or the grocery store. The age-appropriate discipline doesn't change by age, it changes by what mom and dad are up for. Don't worry about the parents that look like they are always on. They're not. And, if they truly are always on, who does their laundry?
8. Other people are doing things with their kids which will make them smarter than my kid.
I hate baby sign language. I really hate it. Are these people really going to continue speaking in sign language? Because, if not, their baby will not remember any of it. My baby "signs" for "hello." He holds his hand up to his ear like a telephone. If you say hello to him, he does this. If he sees you, he will do this to say "hi." Why? Because many times a day, he sees people pick up the phone and say, "hello." Ha! I didn't teach my kid sign language. He is coming up with his own. To me, that seems pretty damn smart.
Most of that crap to make babies smarter is just that...crap. The only key to smart kids is allowing them to learn. So, if you don't put them in a dark box or the basement for the first few years, your kid will be fine. Please let them play and discover.
9. My kid is the only one who gets hyper or violent.
I know this wonderful hippie mother. She is so calm and sweet and would never have any sort of violent toy around the house. Her son used to pretend that everything was a gun and he was "killing" everything. He would hit and his favorite game was to violently wrestle with you.
Kids get wound up. My daughter can be completely mellow. She will sit and read a book for an hour. Then, someone new will come visit and she will run in really fast circles for this person's entire 3 hour visit. In addition, she goes through these stages. There was the hitting stage, the pushing stage, the pretend-to-cut-your-arm-off stage. Some of these stages are disturbing. They are all pretty obviously part of her growing understanding of the world. They happen. Get used to talking to your kids about things.
10. No one else gets exhausted by their kids.
Have you ever noticed that non-parents stay up until the wee hours at parties, etc., but parents are home by 10? Have you ever noticed that your own parents still go to bed super early? 'Nuff said.