I slipped into the quiet room filled with rocking chairs and slung my thirty gallon diaper bag off of my shoulder. The bag will shrink with each child until it resembles a lone diaper tossed under the seat of my van. But this was my first and I was oh, so prepared.
And yet, not even a little.
How can a mom tell one cry from the next and why does yellow poop shoot so far up a baby’s back and should we be looking at homeschooling or public school and how much screen time is too much and how do we bring up sexting? And, and, and. How does one parent??
My diaper bag was purposefully placed beside the rocking chair of a new friend. She had settled in to her’s and was nursing her baby as we glided back and forth together. That is when my questions came out of hiding.
The poor dear never saw it coming.
If you would have been there you would have done the same. She already had five whole kids and therefore knew practically everything there was to know about parenting. She was a free counselor! She was a personal advice column! She was a mom-life coach!
But that was then.
Do you know what I do now? You probably do the same.
We Google, don’t we? We ask perfect strangers for their advice.
“Potty training tips”
“Pros and cons of cloth diapers”
“How can I get my tween to shower?”
“Why do I stink at parenting?”
“How to de-brat a kid”
I like pecking at those keys. I probably ask Google a question every single day of my every single life. Most of them would be better directed at the countless parents I see with my own two (bloodshot) eyes.
Parents, maybe we should cool it on the faux mentor. Maybe this is one thing that really needs to regress into old-fashioned ways.
Here are two very real reasons IRL mentors are better than on-line mentors:
Verifiability: Anyone can type the words “I have this parenting gig figured out.” But how do you know if it’s true? If the article has a hundred likes? If their twitter account has a thousand followers?
The IRL parents that I have sidled up to are provable. I handpicked them because I saw their kids or their intentionality or even their struggle and I had proof: they are the real deal.
Relationship: Smart people, experienced people, can send their knowledge into the abyss of the interwebs but connections are not a part of their package. Living in community with smart, experienced parents in our churches, schools and clubs is part of that package. Conversations with them are individualized and tangible.
IRL mentors not only offer ideas, but feedback and follow-up and maybe even a prayer if we are lucky.
My husband once had the audacity to ask a highly respected pastor in our city to mentor him in Jesus’ ways. Fifteen years later, my husband is still talking about how that giant of a man shaped the way he thought about God.
Who is IRL-ing it for you? Who are the parents you admire? Who do you watch and wonder at their secrets to success? Or who is honest about their screw-ups and then tries again?
Text them a question. Or better yet, ask them to meet you at the Chinese buffet. Or maybe you are gutsy enough to pop the question: Will you mentor me?
You know what I think? You shouldn’t be reading my blog, or any other blog. At least as a substitute for face-to-face. Maybe we should all be lifting our eyes from our phones and craning our necks to find a living, breathing mentor who knows something about the yellow poop on our baby’s back.
Oh Parents, I love us to death. And my hope for all of us is that we would we ask more questions and type fewer.