Tonight I let my kids make and drink blue raspberry Kool-Aid with dinner.
I know, modern-day parenting fail. Because feeding your kids artificial dyes? Big no no. And normally my kids don't consume yellow 64 or blue 17000 or red 4325, and we only enjoy our MSG with a side of Doritos... But every once in a while a little blue sugar water isn't going to doom them as future societal failures. (As a faithful Kool-Aid-drinking-kid from the 90s, I speak from experience here!)
We've turned parenting into this pesky do-or-die, high pressure, competitive THING. We've made it so black and white. It's this or that, us or them. Period. Do you stay at home or work? Do you breast or bottle feed? Do you shop organic or not? Do you co-sleep or let your baby cry it out? Are you a better housekeeper than your neighbor? Are you a better cook than your best friend? Do you have a better figure than the classroom mom? Did you plan the best birthday party with the most glamourous Pinterest decorations? In the grand scheme of life, none of this will end up mattering to our kids. They will care if they felt loved and safe. All the rest? Well, it's time to let it go.
I'm no expert because I've only been dancing this jig for seven-and-a-half years (which is precisely long enough to know that I cannot leave out the and-a-half!). But I have realized that parenting isn't as cut and dry as any of the books, or the experts would tell us. We can't do X and Y and automatically get Z, because we are dealing with real humans here. There are too many variables we can't account for in the hearts, minds, and life circumstances of our precious children.
Unfortunately, there isn't a precise formula for turning out excellent adults and positive contributors to society. I'm pretty sure it just takes a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and prayers. And a lot of love in the form of hugs, kisses, snuggles, books read aloud, games together, movie nights, camping trips, words of affirmation, pizza dinners, conversations, bike rides, ice cream cones, long walks, listening sessions, and apologies.
And maybe even a little blue Kool-Aid.