I Give Myself Very Good Advice But I Very Seldom Follow It

Personally, I blame the talking heads on all the news shows. You know, those people who come in and are an “expert” in something because they wrote a college thesis paper on it. They come on and promote something….”why you’re a terrible parents for not using spf 7000,” “how hamburgers are destroying our country,” “why almost all paint is slowly killing you with it’s fumes,” “how charter schools create child-geniuses.” Whatever. 
The point is, it’s become really hard to make decisions about how to live without having people assume that you also believe your way is the best and you are wanting to broadly paint your life decisions over everyone to create a utopia. Which is unfortunate, because we know that it is having exposure to more choices that typically leads people to happier more productive lives. 
Basically, I am asking that people don’t misunderstand me when I gush about how something that we’ve tried has worked so wonderfully for us. I am very aware that my life is much different than it would have been if…say my husband and I both found fairly good jobs after high school or something; we would probably be much more focused on work, I probably wouldn’t be so obsessed with frugality, I probably wouldn’t be homeschooling. But that’s not to say I wouldn’t still be myself and wouldn’t still find ways to incorporate my worldviews into my daily life….it would simply be my execution that would be different.
So please don’t think I am ever exclusively endorsing one particular way to do things. My goal is and always have been to talk about finding ways to make life better through non-traditional avenues. It was so eye-opening for me to hear other people talking about things I admired, like being a really close family, and realizing that “hey, I CAN do that too! It’s just a matter of taking some chance to do things a bit differently!”
Which brings me to what I really want to talk about:
We live in the Golden Age of Parenting.
Despite what those talking heads would have you believe, with their discussions on Mommy Wars and Vaccine Debate and How to Talk to a Pregnant Woman Without Insulting Her, men and women today have an astounding number of choices and life paths they can take with very little resistance to create the lives they want. Even during my parents days of raising children life was much more pre-scripted. Even if you should find that some part of your life wasn’t jiving, like maybe your child was really struggling in school, there were very very few examples of any kind of alternative to call upon to deal with the situation. You just stuck it out and hoped for the best. 
When I talk to older people I always feel a little hesitant because I feel like some of my views may seem a bit alternative and too revolutionary to them. But I tend to find that people will eagerly acknowledge the problem, and often will recount how they encountered the same thing however many years ago….yet they did little to change it. For example, almost every one knows public school is abysmal. Their child had trouble sitting still in class or learning to read or dealing with cliques. But the general thought then was if things didn’t work you just had to tough it out. School specialists were there to give parents the feeling that something was being done, even if their solution was still “lets learn how to cope.”
Or maybe Dad worked a lot and the children were too much for a flustered Mom and the general feeling in the house was chaotic resentment. You just dealt with it. One day the kids would be out of the house and someone else’s problem.
I would never suggest that problems still don’t exists, that people don’t get stuck in ruts that seem impossible to climb out of, that going with the flow is easier than trying anything new. But merely the fact that we have the choice to do these things is amazingly wonderful. The government (for the most part) isn’t going to come after you if you decide to pull your child out of school. You wont be the eccentric odd ball if Dad quits his lucrative job so he can be home more, or even if he stays home while his wife works. Most of these different lifestyles are not met with  raised eyebrows but with excitement and enthusiasm. People are and always have been dying to find a way to deal with their family problems, ways that don’t include “just dealing,” and we live in a time today where trying something new takes very little effort and very little risk. In the past there were no Mommy Wars because there were not two opposing sides to war from. 
So if you’re a career mother and your children are thriving in public school, good on ya! If you still wanted to work but didn’t like public school there are many expensive or free charter and private schools to choose from. If you still wanted to work but your husband was wilting under the pressure of his job and your children under the pressures of school he can stay home and homeschool. Even within homeschool or public school or charter school there are a million different choices to suit your family. Even within careers there are a million different choices. Within family size there are a million different choices. Within solving family conflict, or teaching responsibility, or the level of family interaction there are a million different choices. 
It’s easy to get caught up in what people are telling you about what you’re doing incorrectly, what you can do better, what is the right and wrong way to do things but the reality is that in our modern society there are very very VERY few choices that are inexplicably bad or good. What you should be focusing on is what kind of life is important to you and what you can do to achieve it. Don’t be afraid of going against the grain or what other people will think of you. We have a wonderful opportunity to create the kind of life that gives us joy and the only true wrong is squandering that opportunity.

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