Have you seen the viral post about the stay at home dad who selfied his “metal hand” into a series of photos he took with his son?
I saw it this morning and, apparently, initially, he got much backlash for the introduction of this level of carnage to his cherubic little miracle.
Meanwhile, tiny containers in the background of these photos are being filled with homemade baby food. A phenomenal, pewter (?) crib dominates a lovely, charcoal nursery fitted with an owl lamp and antique maps straight out of Elle Décor. There is a zoo and a museum and a bike ride in the series. In one shot, the kid is carrying a baguette. In another he is getting ready to nom on some of the most delightful looking tuna rolls I’ve ever seen.
A baguette? Tuna rolls?
At this point, it’s a pretty safe bet that we will soon be seeing that resolute metal hand, framing his adorable toddler’s pumpkin atop a pair of skis.
(I always imagine better parents, better people than I, go skiing. The cost, the gear, and the sheer number of transitions involved would melt my face.
I base this tear-stained hypothesis on how many times I’ve cracked during other adventurous outings. Like Grocery Store. And Bank.)
Some of the haters were mad that he wasn’t really metal at all. Because that’s relevant.
Maybe he isn’t. Maybe he listens to Jewel and inserts the hand to turn the ubiquitous kidstagram into a scene of irony and cultural amalgamation. Maybe he’s an asshole.
I just don’t care.
I like that Metal Hand responded to the internet with, “Parenting is metal.” And, “Get over it.” And, “Here a whole bunch more photos I took with the hand.”
Good for Metal Hand.
Tomorrow, my son turns twelve.
He is precious, precocious, and tall. His favorite thing is making me laugh. He has a healer’s touch, and babies and animals adore him. He already portmanteaus and puns like a champ. He is picky, perfectionistic, sensitive, and easily overwhelmed. He wishes he were a warrior, an inventor, an engineer. He does his chores with many loud complaints, but also, with utter precision.
And I’ve survived twelve years of parenting advice, all of which translates to “You are going to kill your child, you moron.” I’ve survived twelve years of fear and ski-based resentments. There isn’t a single owl in the house. He eats prepared food items from Trader Joe’s. Sometimes he doesn’t brush his teeth. He plays video games, and not only do I let him, I encourage him. I let him swear like a skater because sometimes those words really are appropriate. Often I can’t stand to be in the same room with his tween-y boy energy for more than five minutes. I yell at him for reasons. Sometimes, for no reasons. I often wish someone else would raise him for me. I make him leave the house on his bike and I have no idea if he even knows the proper arm signals. I just say, “Don’t get hit by a car!” and then relax about having a moment alone in my apartment.
I am inadequate and ill-equipped and make All The Mistakes.
Twelve years later, I’ve only learned from a few of them.
I decide that success looks like him surviving twelve years of me, his sense of humor and kindness, his resilience. It’s the story I have to stick to because I try really hard and get so tired of the neverenoughness. That shit is actually on my last nerve.
So I’ve decided not to focus on the projection of the haters, I’m choosing to believe that, like a superhero, Metal Hand capriciously obscures the pretty moments and shouts, “I’m still here being all crazy even though I’m responsible for a baby, because crazy doesn’t just go away!”
Metal Hand rallies for fearlessness and will. He holds his own in the face of rising expectations and intensity. Metal Hand is a revolutionary.
I like that hand standing up for my imperfection like that.
It’s really how you have to cope with the insidious neverenoughness that pervades so many things, not just parenting issues.
Decide on the better story. Not a false story, just the better version.
Over and over and over. Sometimes multiple times a day. Decide you are enough.
Most days it works.
We also need each other.
I rely on comedy, art, friends, and fiction. I rely on my support team.
I come back to my body for (moderate to masterful) health tactics. Sweating, circulating, digesting, and breathing keep things moving, and the rage and inadequacy at bay.
And I teach other people how to do these things.
It’s a joy to be here to remind you that you are also enough. That the fact that you’ve pulled yourself out of disappointment more times than you can count and you still wake up every day and make a play for love, is wildly dexterous.
I’d love to hear more in the comments about your relationship with the demands and expectations on your life. Do you feel like you have a solid system of support and a broad spectrum of tools to cope?
Need more? Perhaps we should be working together.
P.S. For exceptional writing on the fight against helpful parenting advice, go check out my pal Janelle Hanchett at renegademothering.com. It happens that she just had a baby last night and named him Arlo. Baby love bananas forever.