My husband and I were having this great discussion about peer pressure the other night. And he mentioned that its nice to be at an age where there is no longer any peer pressure because he just doesn’t give a shit what people think anymore. I agreed that, for me, there was a certain age that I reached where I started focusing on me and what I wanted vs what other people thought of me and what they thought I should do. But I’ve still got peer pressure making me agonize over stupid things. And it’s all about parenting.
It started the moment I got pregnant. “You’re not getting the flu shot?!” *Disgusted look* “You’re practically killing your baby.” Or how about when I chose to have a home birth. “Home birth?” Poignant pause in discussion. Looks of confusion. Then horror. “But what if something happens? The baby could die.”
Then the baby is born. “You use a pacifier? You know, studies have shown that babies that use pacifiers experience nipple confusion. And they’re more likely to need braces later in life.”
You take the baby home. “You breastfeed in public? Oh my god, you’re soooo brave. I could never do that.” “Your baby has been crying in her crib for 2.5 seconds. You should really pick her up. Studies have shown that letting a baby cry is abusive.” *Look of judgement* “Why don’t you swaddle her? It creates a womb-like experience for the child and calms her.” “You co-sleep? My cousin and his wife accidentally smothered their 6-month old when they co-slept. I mean, you really need to be careful. Why don’t you just spend $400 on a crib that attaches to the bed?” “An Evenflo car seat. Statistics have shown that the Graco Snuggly Seat has the best crash test rating.”
I’ve felt the parenting peer pressure since I got pregnant, but it escalates when your kid starts school. Because now the competition is on. It makes me sick sometimes. The super amazing crafty mom that hand makes every gift for every holiday. The super gourmet chef mom who brings in some organic vegan masterpiece to serve for the snack. Or just the plain old rich mom who gets a $30 gift for the Secret Santa Swap when the spending limit is $5. Sorry kid that had the misfortune to have his name picked by my kid – that $4 harmonica looked like a cool idea before Kid X opened up the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Sewer Lair that was on clearance at Target for only $99 last weekend.
Right now, my two biggest parenting peer pressures are kids’ sports and parent volunteering at school. These things are weighing on me and making me feel guilty. Why? Because my 4 and 6 year olds are not signed up for any sports. And I have absolutely no desire (none) to join the PTO or volunteer to watch the kids climb all over each other, screaming at the top of their lungs, while they have a holiday party. Hey, I’ll send food, paper products, whatever you need, but I can think of 1,001 other things I’d rather do. Like clip my toenails, or clean out my closet. The sports thing? Yeah, we tried T-ball and my kid didn’t seem to care about anything except the time before and after the game when she could socialize with her friends. She cried at every practice because she was tired and hungry and T-ball practice on a weeknight from 5-6 p.m. just doesn’t work when the kid goes to bed at 7.
I spent 20 minutes clipping Box Tops and taping them to sheets of paper to send to the school last week. It was my penance for not volunteering for anything. But I have to say this: I don’t make any money as a stay at home mom, so my time is a commodity. If I have gotten everything done that needs doing and I have a free moment, I’m going to use it to sit on my big fat duff. That’s right other parents. When the laundry, shopping, cooking, (light) cleaning and errands are done, all the phone calls have been made and there aren’t any appointments for anyone to be driven to, I’m going to be selfish. I’m going to do something with my time that I want to do. So while the rest of you go-getters are planning school fundraisers or driving your kids to sports practice, I’ll be here, playing Candy Crush, reading, listening to Pandora and eating something salty to drown out the guilt.
“Studies have shown that volunteering is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and that eating salty foods causes heart disease and that parents that don’t volunteer and eat junk in front of their kids are setting their children up for childhood obesity, extensive future family counseling, threat of autism, social awkwardness and just general unpopularity….”