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You’re So Metal: How To Be Enough In A World That Would Rather You Weren’t

You’re So Metal: How To Be Enough In A World That Would Rather You Weren’t

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.

This guy. Having opinions since the early oughts.

This guy. Having opinions since the early oughts.

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.

 

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11 Responses to You’re So Metal: How To Be Enough In A World That Would Rather You Weren’t

  1. Solar says:

    Brilliant, You. Universal viewfinder of truth and allthingsgood. You’ve been raising me for 20 years and I’m turning out pretty cool. You had better take credit for that, Ms. Morethanenoughness.

    • mworden says:

      Oh you sweet thing. What I would do to go back to the hopeful, starstruck beginning with you sometime. Not to do it all over. Just to relive the wonder. We thought it was all so heavy then. Stay forever. xx

  2. Kyeli says:

    I love this so much. All of it. I have a 16.5 yr old that managed to survive my off-the-rails parenting and insane emotional hurricane self – and we homeschool him so he was exposed to far more of me than was really well-advised. (;

    Hell yeah parenting is metal. It takes metal to let your heart wander outside of your body for the rest of your life. Thanks for this. Lovelovelove.

    • mworden says:

      Kyeli! Oh my gosh. I homeschool too. And work at home. This poor kid is always with me. Like you said, no one would advise this much contact with me to anyone else. HA. I love what you said about metal heart wandering. Adore you. (and looking forward to the next time I see your face). xm

  3. Meg, I’ve never met you but still I absolutely adore you! I love your honesty, your realness, your humor, your writing, your kindness, your vision. I’m way older than you–my son turns 40 this month–and I am still thinking I was a pretty shitty mother even though he turned out to be an amazing man. Quirky, different, also a Portlander, and it was probably despite me that he turned out so great. You had me laughing about sending him out on his bike with “don’t get hit by a car” while you wonder if he knows his hand signals. When we were raising our kids, we didn’t even think that perhaps they should be wearing helmets!

    Enjoy your son’s birthday tomorrow. It’s your birthday, too. The day you became a mother and your life changed forever.

    • mworden says:

      Dear Mary, So great to see you here. Congratulations to you for keeping one alive long enough to turn 40. You must have done many, many things right. Parenting really is the strangest gig. This is definitely the day my life changed forever. I’m super proud of my good kid. Thanks so much for reading. I look forward to hearing more from you. xm

  4. kris ex says:

    you’re totally metal. or something.

    you know what i mean.

  5. Donna says:

    Meg,
    Thanks for another fantastic post. I had not heard of the “metal hand” pictures until today and absolutely LOVED looking through them. Good for him to bust up that old paradigm of what “family photos” should be.

    When mine were little, my creativity sometimes flowed in the direction of obtaining a few quiet moments, you know…like the ones when the kiddos are down for the night, but before you find yourself able to do little more than pass out on the couch? So, while the little buggers were distracted, I changed the hands on the clock. Presto! Bedtime! A little extra rest never hurt anyone, right?

    I hope the birthday is lovely.

  6. claire stone says:

    Meg – what a wonderful post of thoughts and feelings. What you say has kind of made me realise that the minute you figure out you are never enough, or that you can’t give enough, or that you haven’t enough, and feel deep down that even so, it’ll be ok,is the moment you actually become enough. Because by realising your neverenoughness, you, I guess, do your best (when you can) and just trust in the world/people/life (when you can’t).

  7. Heidi says:

    Meg, you are brilliant and awesome. Thanks for being enough to mother your son in just the way you do. Thanks for taking the time to write all the lovely, wise and funny posts. Always a joy to read. I’ve raised 4 kids, the oldest is 39, the youngest is 14. I did the best I could, and continue to learn how to do better. I’ve survived their fathers who weren’t bad men but they were bad for me. Again, I did the best I could, and have learned how to do relationships better each time. This sentence really stood out to me..”…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.” Yes, wildly skillful, never thought of it quite that way. I am wildly hopeful about love, a very good student of whatever Life serves up, and awesomely enough for everyone and everything that crosses my path.

    Thanks for turning me on to the metal hand pics. Nice to see such an involved Dad.

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