Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Why Whole Foods Makes Me A Better Parent

It's not for the reason you think.

April has been insanely busy. Why? Well, I think most of my time was spent trying to bake Hayden's three birthday requests - including the not-so-perfect, perfect cake. Hayden's birthday post is going to be delayed due to my wanting perfect photos. Perfect photos that will be edited perfectly by my perfectionist, Artist husband. This is perfectly fine. Our lives are always perfect online. We post family awesomeness on Facebook and Instagram, and somehow even the funny moments look great in photos, but the actual real-time experience may be oh-so-imperfect.

I read a blog post today about being an imperfect parent, and it told me (yes, she was speaking to me) that I am probably doing a better job than I think. You can read about me it here. I was the epitome of this at Whole Foods today - a place where I somehow feel the need to turn on the extra sensitive, gentle parenting persona. I think the broken window theory extends well beyond destruction and devastation in my case.

The broken window theory in basic terms, suggests that a small amount of damage can result in a snowball effect of greater destruction over time. I have always used Whole Foods vs. Walmart as a basic analogy. While Whole Foods has staff constantly restocking shelves and building perfectly crafted pyramids of apples, our local Walmart, which I avoid like the plague, has items strewn about, things rolling on the floor, open boxes, you get the picture. A spill on the floor of Whole Foods is quietly whisked away, ala Disneyland, while Walmart's could fester for an undetermined amount of time. Am I exaggerating? Maybe. But this has been my experience in the locations I have visited. Bottom line is, I drop an apple at Whole Foods, I pick it up. I drop an apple at Walmart, it's 50/50 (the apple was made in China anyway).

Today, I found myself at Whole Foods with 2 young kids that were having different issues. One was cranky and one was dissatisfied. The common thread was that they would both not stop "touching" each other, causing us to take up the width of two carts in the aisle, which we know at Whole Foods after 5pm becomes excessively aggravating to EVERYONE. I found myself trying extra hard to choose my words and control my tone. My surroundings were to blame for my "better" behavior. But it made me think. Why would this place, this clean, above averagely priced place, curb my instinctual poor parenting efforts? Remove the fact that there is someone I know around every turn, and I realized that this perfectly perfect grocery store was influencing me. This was the real problem.

My surroundings and being in public influenced my parenting choices more than the want and need to do what is best for my children. To be clear, I don't come home and beat my kids to a pulp, but I do yell, I do firmly grab them and I don't always frame poignant teaching moments or use the best choice of words. I also know, that no one always does the right thing, and if they tell you they do, they are full of it... or they are lying that they even HAVE children.

So, my epiphany here is this, if I can think of better ways to handle these kids in public - and in varying degrees based on my surroundings, than why can't I be the same parent at home? Now, I can't control my personal variables. I can't always be happy, or stress-free, or have peace and quiet during a Giant's game, but what I realized, is that I am capable. It's not about being perfect. It's about being capable.

From now on, I am going to pretend I am at Whole Foods.