The best part of my cruise/conference? Getting to hang around with a lot of other writers who also happen to be parents.
Some of the brave souls (such as Blog Salad's Ron Doyle) brought their children along with them. The rest of us had much more fun. We sat around the karaoke bar, sipped grown-up drinks and swapped stories about parenting.
Can I just say how liberating it was to hear other parenting writers admit that they are not perfect parents? All together, we represented years of parenting expertise. Dozens of children between us. Hundreds of published parenting articles and real-life, real-time access to acknowledged child-rearing experts. We, after all, are the people who write articles such as, "32 Easy Ways to Streamline Your Crazy-Busy Life," "Discipline Tricks That Stick," and "The Secret to Healthier Happier Kids." (All actual article titles from actual magazines.)
And yet, our real lives often look very little like the lives portrayed in the magazines. (Think of us as the parenting equivalent of female fashion models.) Despite knowing the "right" things to do, we yell. (Sometimes within earshot of the neighbors). We give in. We bargain. We plead. We make the same mistakes again and again and again.
We might write the articles that tell you how to balance work and family, but we don't have it all together. We're struggling too, just like everyone else. Our lives - just like yours -- are a constant work in progress. Besides, what article can prepare you for sick kids, cat poop and Internet issues?
The bottom line, as always, is that you are the true expert. We might have access to academic studies, talking heads and statistics, but you know your family and children better than we ever will. You're the only one who can decide, on the spur of the moment, what to do when your preschooler whacks your sick tween on the head with a tractor. (Wait -- that's my life.)
So trust your instincts, and take comfort in the fact that parenting writers are winging it too.