Ever felt as a parent, as a mother, or a father, or just as a person, unseen? That the world around you is not reflecting your reality? We have, and from what we can tell, so too have a lot of people.
The world is not black and white, it is many shades of grey, and yet often the world we are shown as parents and people is distinctly contrasted. And in South Africa, this is even more extreme. We live in a diverse country full of stories, views, attitudes and yet we are often not shown the full spectrum of those shades.
And while this is still true, it is also changing, even though a slow process, people are starting to challenge stereotypes and unhealthy perceptions, to challenge the washing of truths, to shed light on the danger of a single story and to destroy any attempt at BS.
But it is not happening quickly enough here in South African, and this is why along with The Citizen, we started Parenty, to create a destination and community – a village – for modern-day parents. A space where parents feel seen, heard and understood.
It is making us sick and tired, and tired and sick. And sad. And mad.
Because let’s face it, many of us feel lied to, lied to by our Instafeeds, our FaceBook friends, the glossy mags we read, the Hollywood movies we watch and the adverts we see on TV. This whole fantasy of perfection and all these avatar parents who seemingly always have their shit together with their happy smiling families is not just impossible it is painful. It is making us sick and tired, and tired and sick. And sad. And mad.
In South Africa, many of us still feel ashamed to admit that parenting is hard and that we often make mistakes. It is almost blasphemous to show parenthood as anything other than perfect, a blessing, an honour. And it is many things including a privilege and a joy, but that is not all it is, and that is OK. Why do we feel the need to sanitise parenthood? It is what it is – sometimes it is wonderful and sometimes it sucks. And we don’t all love and relish every damn minute of being a parent.
Just because you admit to failing sometimes, doesn’t mean you are a failure. Good, no, great, parents are the ones that keep trying in spite of the challenges. We all believe that one day we will come to grips with parenting, and the irony is we never will, and deep down we do know that, but we carry on anyway – ironically laughing at our own naive optimism the whole way.
And imagine a world, where parents didn’t feel the need to pretend to be perfect to be seen as good parents. Imagine a world where moms were told it’s ok. It’s ok not to be perfect, it’s ok not to have all the answers, it’s ok to make mistakes, it’s ok for work to sometimes come first, it’s ok for you to sometimes come first, it’s ok to want it all, it’s ok to not always achieve it all, it’s ok to miss out on some things, it’s ok to laugh, to play, to be silly.
A world where fathers were never treated as the plan b parents, the baby sitter. But made to feel accepted and respected as fathers, as soft, as loving, as emotional, as delicate. And for none of these fatherly traits to challenge his masculinity. A world where being fatherly doesn’t make a man womanly but makes him even more manly.
That practice can’t make perfect, only perfect-ish.
A world where the truth of parenthood is understood and accepted: being a parent is a job that cannot be perfected, it takes constant practice, trial and error, baptism of fire. That practice can’t make perfect, only perfect-ish. That parents are perfectly imperfect and that is perfect because they never give up, never stop trying, they get up every morning and keep trying to be the best they can be.
This is the world the creators of Parenty want to live in, the world we want Parenty to help make. We, at Parenty, believe in a world with more than one story of parenthood. And we are here to offer a voice to them all. Parenty is a space for parents to escape to, to share and listen, to seek and find, to laugh, cry and rage.
We at Parenty promise to never apply rose coloured glasses to parenting, to never filter ourselves or you (within reason ????), to never BS you. We swear to always show you both sides of the story, the dark and the light. We promise to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, in all its messy brutal beautiful glory. We will never profess to have all the answers – because we are not oracles, no-one is when it comes to parenting. We can only swear to share our stories and hope that something in that helps you, entertains you, or comforts you.
Last but not least, we also promise to never make any promises (see what we did there?) – who knows what lies in wait around each new corner of parenthood, we may contradict ourselves at some point or do a 180 or a 360 or even a back handspring full twist. But that’s ok because that’s the truth of parenting, what you thought you knew for sure today, you are questioning tomorrow.
So, if any of this strikes a cord or a nerve with you, then you are our people, and we hope you enjoy the world we are creating for you at Parenty, as much we enjoyed making it.
Anyway, bye for now.
The Parenty Team
Here for perfect-ish parents.