Most if not all of us will have heard the tale of a little girl named Goldilocks, who boldly makes herself at home in the cottage of a family of three bears. She eats their porridge, moving from the bowl that is scalding, to the one that’s too cold, then eventually finding the one that’s ‘just right.’ As she goes through the house, she tests out each chair, and even each bed, seeking out which is perfectly tailored to her needs.
Isn’t that a bit like parenting today? It’s as if parenthood is being sold by society as some kind of a fairytale story, where the aim is to get each element ‘just right.’ But one reason (among many!) as to why this perfection is ever elusive is that we are all continually swamped with well-meaning but contradictory advice from all directions.
So I thought I’d write you a little tongue-in-cheek poem, as a little reminder not to take ourselves quite as seriously as much of the time.
Modern parenthood is a myth, an elusive balancing act;
A fairytale forest filled with fiction and sold to us as fact.
For around every corner and just beyond every bend,
You’ve got judges and experts (and the many who pretend!)
They’ve all got it sussed and they advise with delight –
Not too much, not too little – you need to get it all ‘just right.’
From the moment you’re expecting, you must cherish every minute,
Even if you’re sick and tired and praying for the finish.
Don’t eat too much, but don’t lose weight – You must be round and glowing;
Remember to eat healthy now, a baby you are growing!
After birth, take time out, but don’t dare hide away –
You need to rest up, but you should ask every visitor to stay.
Don’t feel any pressure to tidy up your house,
But we’ll talk about you if you leave too much lying around.
Feed your baby yourself, but please not for too long
For once they are toddlers, well that’s just plain ‘wrong.’
Dummies are fine for some soothing relief,
But not once they’re two, ‘cause it’s bad for their teeth!
Cuddles are well and good, but put them down to sleep,
Or goodness only knows what bad habits they will keep!
You’ll spoil them you see, their dependence don’t end;
They’ll be going to school and still sleep in your bed (gasp!!)
Be flexible, look out for, and meet all your baby’s needs
Except, except for at night, when it’s for ‘attention,’ or ‘greed.’
You must play with your kid, but not all the time;
They need to know how to occupy their own mind.
Structure the day, but schedule in play
Or they’ll certainly be anxious and depressive one day.
Put boundaries in place, but don’t show too much grace
Or one day they’ll throw it all back in your face.
Don’t be too soft, but don’t be too hard
Don’t shout or scold, or for life they’ll be scarred.
Not too much sugar, not too much salt-
If they’re fussy or hyper it’ll be all your fault.
You must cook them veggies, but don’t forget sweets;
They shouldn’t miss out on the occasional treat!
They’ll get ipads at school, but don’t use them at home
Always know where they are – but don’t buy them a phone.
You know, I think there’s a reason why ‘Goldilocks’ ends
With her waking up, screaming and running away.
Because ‘just right’ all the time just isn’t real life;
It’s time we determined no longer to strive;
For the sooner we do the sooner we’ll find
That our kids see our flaws and they really don’t mind.
What they need is our love, our care and our best;
Let’s not get too preoccupied with the rest.
For there’s no ‘just right’ parent or child in the world
But there’s plenty of delicious moments yet to unfurl.