Parenting styles are as widely varied as the coffee menu at your local brew house.Â If someone had told me about helicoptering, co-sleeping and authoritative when I was in my early twenties, I would have laughed in their faces and assumed some form of sexual innuendo. Who knew so many different forms of parenting styles and classifications exist. As of late I have been pondering if I am really doing this parenting thing right/wrong based on the way I was raised as a child. Thoughts that are based on a series of comments spoken to me very recently. “You were not raised in a “Christian” home,” I was told. Feeling this to be the most “Christ-like” of insults I laughed and thought well if I wasn’t raised that way then I must be have been raised and raising sinners. Continue reading “Raising Sinners”
This week The Chad traveled yet again for work. A trade show in Tampa, really rough gig; shaking hands and kissing babies to the various vendors and clients. While this week is really no different from any other time he travels I personally am feeling rather “under the weather” to say the least, call it a funk. So in true fashion of a funk, my loving children have decided this is the week to test every boundary, push every limit, skirt every envelope. At the end of the day I just don’t have anything left. I hit the bed at 8:30 every evening and praise the Lord for that moment. Quiet. In that quiet I contemplate what am I doing wrong in raising my children, I judge myself in my solitude. Am I not stern enough? Hard to believe, I am a ball buster….or maybe I’m not with my kids. Maybe I am not nice enough? Should I raise my voice? I am not a screamer or one to yell, but maybe I could raise my tone another octave, that should do it right? Am I really being a good parent?
Struggling on where I am going wrong, I dismantle my parenting, myself and judge my ability. Even though I have small winning moments where I think I am doing things right when my children pray before dinner, thanking God for the nourishment of the food, thanking Him for their siblings, parents, grandparents, great grandparents; they show the most amazing kindness and love for strangers, exuding a strength in their quest for equality, standing up for what is right. All to be toppled upon by the simple act of defiance and disrespect towards me, I judge myself harshly in that moment. Am I really doing parenthood right?
Looking at professional fields, they seem to provide some form of training and formal education. Becoming a doctor is an arduous task with over eight years of schooling, then residency, all before landing at a local health facility. Annual training, certifications, re-certifications, more conferences, more training; I am always amazed at level of education and continuing education provided to professional fields. We often judge the accomplishment of a practicing physician based on their training and accolades, awards scattered throughout the office. One professional field I believe is always the most neglected is the parent. Scoff all you want, however I feel that this career path, because this is a lifelong career, provides the least amount of resources yet is judged and evaluated the most harshly. I stumbled across an article this week about how inhumane parents are to let a child cry themselves to sleep and learn to self soothe. When I hear inhumane I often think of the ill treatment of pets and not the ill treatment of children, to which I would correlate the word abuse as opposed to inhumane. I suppose someone was trying not to upset their readership. Why do we have such intense training and rigorous standards for the paid career paths but we lack proper training and education for the job of parenting, the basis for the future of humanity. We judge and criticize the ability to parent as if there is some grand handbook and training we are provided before, during and after birth.
At best, my first round of training came from a deaf nurse who groped my breasts shortly after I birthed my oldest son to show me how to properly feed my child and that if I didn’t breast feed I was a failure. Spectacular. Bar one had been set in my quest for perfect parenthood. Along came many other milestones, coaching from others who were clearly far more superior in their parenting, strangers in parking lots, Costco’s and even friends who had yet to rear children. All of which afforded me nothing, but more feelings of failure and made me question my ability as a parent, was I really going about this all wrong?
Where did the criterion for perfect parenting come about? Basic common sense tells me that we want the best for our children. Treat them with love, respect, no malice; we want to comfort them and ensure their safety, encourage their growth and development mentally, emotionally, physically. Somehow we don’t provide any basic training to parents on their emotional involvement of parenthood. At 25 when I became a first time mother I can look back now and think of how unprepared I was for the spirited toll to raising a child, a strong intelligent child, then add strong, intelligent twins later in life. The true meaning of double trouble. Our society has reared an ugly head in recent days that certain actions could be perceived as abuse, even called out for such actions when no harm or malice was displayed to the child.
Take for instance the new phenomenon of children who are left to play outside by themselves without adult supervision. Apparently this is the newest form of child abuse, to let your older children roam their neighborhoods on bikes and on foot to explore and play with their friends. The application of imagination is completely devoid, we must hold our children hostage to our homes. The daft choice of letting a child under the age of six (more specifically age two) roaming neighborhoods and parks unattended, this is unacceptable and a result of poor education, poor choices, and an invitational extreme where other parents (or people) take a singular event and are applying house arrest to all children. Even children who understand right and wrong and who have been afforded such freedoms to be about their neighborhood are at risk of confinement. Myself, I have let my children run like a gang of hellions. Each armed with their bicycle, helmet, and knowledge of our neighborhood and its inhabitants, their imagination the fuel for such adventure.
Call me reckless but I see a great joy and freedom for my children to be about their community, that the neighbors know my children, we have an understood respect for one another that in the event one of our children is injured or in need we would call to come to their aid. Not call the authorities. Humanity.
So why do we judge parenthood and create such unobtainable standards when we have no apparent bar for metrics? If we do have a temperature why is it that when I Google “parenting classes” and “education on becoming a parent” each result yielded advocacy, abuse prevention and my personal favorite, consultation. Not a single result offered simple classes on dealing with emotional tolls, psychological tolls, coping skills or even basic diaper changing. As a parent I judge myself with the utmost harshness, the last I need is some other parent with similar, or less than adequate coping skills determining my quality as a parent.
I berate myself on how poor of a job I must be doing as I compare myself to some imaginary standard. I tear myself down that I am not doing enough. I don’t volunteer enough in class. I don’t provide sushi in their box lunches on Fridays. I do not always read to my children. I do not always save my children, aid and abet them in a time where they need to learn for themselves how to complete a task and understand the value of singular or team effort. I guess I am not doing this mothering thing right. I must be a horrible mother for subjecting my twins to the walk in cooler at Costco when they were infants, in order to purchase organic milk, because I should have left them with the strange woman who accosted me before entering. I must be a horrible mother for loving my children unconditionally, no matter what choices they make and guiding them with love as they struggle emotionally. I must be a horrible mother by limiting screens in their lives and forcing them to play outside. I must be a horrible mother for wanting more for my children. I must be a horrible mother for waking early each morning to make my children’s lunches because I choose not to subject them to the poor food standards of public schools. I must be a horrible mother for enforcing rules and issuing personal restraint to not yell, scream, or inflict physical or emotional harm.
God help me that I am broken. God help others that they are broken too.Â By no means am I perfect, while I strive for improvement everyday, raising my children a different way than my parents, raising the imaginary bar. Parents, even people who are not parents, should be reminded that we are doing the best we can with the tools in which we have been provided. Some have become parents way before their intended time and were not even prepared for adult life let alone the responsibility of a child as they were still a child themselves. Others are dealing with truly unique situations, because parenting is not a one-size fits all standard. We tend to blanket or umbrella the imaginary parenting standard across anyone who has taken on the role as parent, blinded by the individuality that may exist and applying our standards or the imaginary standards to everyone.
Sometimes I wonder if we should apply the career of physician to parenting. Practicing medicine; practicing parenthood. Doctors do not always have the answer, nor are they the utmost authority. As technology and information progresses they[physicians] conduct themselves in an improved manner. Maybe parents should be gauged in the same fashion. As information is shared and provided in a manner that is loving and helpful we can continue to practice to be better, ending previous cycles of bad operations, seeking enlightenment and not entitlement. Instead of prancing around in a demonstrative manner of our accomplishments.
Being a parent is not easy. Issuing myself mental lashings to be feared by the most nefarious villains. How different parenting would be if we banded together as a community. Lifting each other and speaking life into one another and supporting each other as opposed to applying our personal judgment of the other. Unbeknownst to their battle, their struggle, their situation. Being a good parent is not something we learned before we had children, I am finding being a good parent is something I work at each day, with no manual, no formal education, no training. So the next timeÂ you think to judge a parent, consider what tools, education, training you received or maybe the ones they did not receive. Maybe offer that parent a moment of assistance or a friendly smile, pay forward practicing humanity instead of practicing judgment.
Maintaining the wild giggle to myself of the faded memory of the TIME magazine cover I too shake my head in misunderstanding of the critical judgment passed by parents and non-parents alike. I wonder why we “freak out” to see that a parent so chooses a path to nurture and bond with their child that may be socially out of norm, albeit unacceptable to a vast majority. Yet the parent that lets their child run the streets, is unaware of any retardation they may experience that puts them at a huge disadvantage among other children, and lacks the parental attachment necessary to provide basic loving care is ignored. Not even a huff, snort, or pissy remark given to this form of action and behavior.
I am talking about a parent that has no nurturing qualities whatsoever. I am speaking to a parent that lets their child leave the house and is unaware of their disappearance and is not in the least bit concerned to their childs whereabouts. I am speaking to a parent who has fully admitted the only reason the child is in their life is to save their marriage.
And we thought breastfeeding aÂ kindergartnerÂ wasÂ preposterous.
What I find most appalling is the fact that this parent ADOPTED their child. They CHOSE this child. They CHOSE to bring a special needs child into their home. They CHOSE this life. Call me callous, but this is like adopting a dog. Now when faced with the challenges that childhood brings with this child and the struggles of social growth and cognitive skills they seem to think that this behavior is the norm and ignore the fact their child has greater needs that some parents do not have the capacity to work with, through, or have any experience in the matter. They seem to brush the kid under the rug like he or she is the everyday norm, run of the mill standard kid with no special needs.
I struggle with this parent daily due to our close proximity. I have struggled to not write on this subject because of the damning effect. I struggle as I watch this parent spend more quality time with the family dogs on her daily constitutional than she does quality time with her child. I fight the urge to tell her to fuck off when her child randomly leaves their home and she is unaware of his disappearance, or maybe she is aware and does not exude concern, and the child shows up at my house, unannounced, unwanted, as the child stands at my doorstep entitled to come in and spend time with our family. I find pity and concern and anger with this situation that the child finds solace and acceptance in my home despite my hidden anger, concern, and lastly my pity.
This child acts as an ape in my home, climbing on counters, standing on counters and other household items that are not meant for this type of behavior. Pulling my window coverings from their bases in the walls leaving gaping wounds in my drywall needing to be repaired due to his feral behavior. I had patience and understanding in the beginning, knowing his situation.Â At first I made excuses that the child needed to know the boundaries in our home, to understand our rules and so we discussed healthy boundaries and rules.
Out the window….like their coverings.
I tried to reason and explain to the parents what his behavior entailed so as not to have a repeat offense.
Now, as the child visits my home on an almost every weekend basis I am faced with a rage I can no longer bridle from this parent who lacks any form of attachment, love, or concern for her CHOSEN child. The child is very special needs and quite frankly I am not equipped to deal with this sort of child that is not mine. I do not have the skills to entertain him on the days that are MINE to spend with my flesh and blood. To relax and enjoy my children because I am too spun and wound tighter than a drum because THIS child invades my home. Call me selfish, I can. Not my kid. You are probably thinking: “Don’t let him in,” “Send the child home,” all warranted responses to which I say, I am not the one letting him enter our home.
Often times the child shows up and is let in by my husband, sometimes my kids. If left to me I would leave him at the door at which he compulsively rang the door bell where I would want to rip the notification device from the wall to prevent further use. I then begin to question the motives of the mother who once sent him over stating, “It’s my weekend to relax and I want my time.” I nearly cam unglued and my rage almost got the better of me as I began to hoof my angry, selfish, self-righteous ass over to her house to demand she explain who the hell she was to make such claims and assume the weekends were not my family’s either. TWAT!
So I then question her motives again. My only assumption is her daft obliviousness to the fact that we have goings on in our lives, that we do not just sit around waiting for her to send her child off to our home to give her reprieve, she must just think that since we have three children…in the grand scheme what is one more. Again I curse TWAT and how dare she. But then I thought, why not play her game. One day the child came to the door and we sent our THREE children in tow with this child back to his home for a full on play date at their house.
The silence lasted about week. It was bliss.
Until the weekend this child came to the door on a Sunday, of all weekends, that we all decided to sleep in. By sleep in, I mean we all slept until roughly nine in the morning. The morning was glorious until I was ripped from my peaceful morning arousal by the door bell, a knock at the door, dogs barkingÂ fervently. FUCK!
Running to the door I answered and politely sent the boy away as he attempted to pout and I bit my adult lip to not rip his head off. Meandering back to my room to lay quietly again in my comfy bed to get my wits about me I hear another knock. Short of losing my shit altogether I advise my eldest son that is awake to ignore the door and the child coming to it every fifteen minutes. For an hour the child paces in front of our house after being sent away and finally I cannot take it and so I text the mother to see if she understands the gravity of the situation. Advising her I sent the boy home at nine…by now it is fifteen after 10 in the morning.
She doesn’t catch my drift.
Then the child is trying his hand at jimmying open my son’s bedroom window. At this point my husband is awake, because my sleeping lion has now come full rage and is about to pull the kid home by his ears. By no means am I a violent person, but the events that have taken place have pushed me to corporal actions. My husband calms me for a moment, steps outside and takes the boy aside, speaks to him and sends him on his way. While I pace furiously through my kitchen eyeing the events to the front of my house through my dining room window, I cannot take anymore shenanigans. I text the mother to explain that their child was sent away an hour ago because we wanted to sleep in without their child coming over for once, I explain him pacing in front of our house for the hour, I explain the attempted break in.
No admission of guilt.
Not even giving a fuck.
Then I am speechless. At a complete loss to the lack of concern on behalf of this parent. Their child was away from their home with no known whereabouts for more than a hour. They had assumptions I am sure. Let me further caveat all this that the child is EIGHT years old with special needs. Born of a mother who abused alcohol and drugs. A child who has spent his entire life in some form of therapy classes for social, cognitive, and other basic skills born unto children who are not born of the deficiencies he faces. But clearly he is of sound mind and body to walk around a neighborhood block, on a very heavy traffic neighborhood street, to come play with my children, without supervision on his jaunt, without concern of his whereabouts.
Maybe I am blowing the whole situation out of proportion. Maybe I just care to the whereabouts of my children. Maybe I care to their concern and to that of others. Maybe I enjoy to just spend time with my children on the weekends after I work all week. I am selfish in that I do not want to watch another parents child who sends them off so they can have peace and quiet. Maybe I find that there is a happy medium between the attachment and detached parenting ideals. I like that my children are their own person and being, sleep on their own, completed breastfeeding at one year, but still have me tuck them in at night, I have them still hold my hand across the street and through parking lots, I find that more of being a concerned, loving parent, than fitting into any mold of parenting principles.
When has the detached parenting gone too far? Or in this case was their any “parenting” involved at all?
Our current economic atmosphere has evolved a new breed of a stay at home parent. Formerly mothers were the primary care givers in the home and the most likely proponent to attend PTO meetings, running the kids to sports activities, and doing the household upkeep. Homes used to be comprised of a working father and stay at home mother, very a-typical, very “Cleaver-esque,” very reminiscent of ourÂ grandparents, possibly our parents of theÂ baby-boomerÂ era. The idolization of the American dream of a stay at home parent to raise our children and the other parent in the workforce, “bringing home the bacon.”Â However, as aforementioned, the weather has shifted and as a society, more and more dads are in the home world heading up the household at her core. Now mom is the one who is bringing home, and sometimes, frying up the bacon too.
Yet how much credit is afforded to these men who collide head on with the “stay at home” job? Men are men, and they do not have the sameÂ nurturingÂ and caring as women do who often take to the stay at home career much more gracefully. Not to say fathers and men cannot be as effective, I am only indicating that the vagina is anÂ upper-handÂ in the soft touch of caring for a home and family. But again, who is to say that a man cannot keep his hardened parenting style as the brute force in parenting, and carry on a softness and tenderness that emanates greatness in our children.
My husband is one of these men. He is my hero. He was formerly a manny. A slapstick reference to his job by calling himself a male nanny (manny) where he was and isÂ much more than that. Gifted with a layoff leaving him unemployed, we thought to only be temporary, has become a full-timeÂ opportunity that has afforded him time with our children that fathers are not oftenÂ privilegedÂ to experience. He wakes with them in the morning, they ask for him at bed for good-night story time, and they are all different people, The Chad included, because of the power of daddy. Many men “claim” to be a stay at home dad, where mom works in the home and dad happens to stay at home and claim to be a care taker, but really he is a glorified babysitter, not a true parent, not a true parental caregiver, nurturer. I say that very cavalier because these men are aware they lack the nurturing gift of fatherhood, a gift and art learned only through precious time spent with their children. Face it, most dads fumble with the kids only because mom comes in and takes over, rules the roost, puts out any fires and calms all the storms. Moms have only learned this by experience, gifted again with precious time with the children, the nurturing that begins from womb to breast as we hold our babes tightly. Men have a different experience and much different than the woman’s, so some detachment can be expected, they do not have 40 weeks of bonding prior to delivery.
I say that men fumble because they do, at no fault of their own. I commend any dad who will spend alone time with his children sans mom. Sans a woman of any sorts to jump in with maternal instinct to care and nurture and fix the errors dads should be afforded to make when adventuring through parenthood, fatherhood. Ladies how many times have you bitched, moaned, groaned or carried on because dad served up peanut butter and jelly for dinner and didn’t prepare the three course meal topped with sparkling water in a clear glass tumbler? I have a few small words for you if they have done this – FUCK YOU and of course GET OVER IT. Admittedly you know you have had moments of weakness where a full meal was not served, you have half assed the house keeping, or best yet, you ponied up to hire a housekeeper because “you don’t have the time” or “the energy” or flat out you cannot handle the way your husband handles the housekeeping for you because its not “your way.” I pity you for your coarse and selfish behavior. I pity you for not appreciating a man who is willing to be that bigger man and take on a traditional feminine role for the greater good of the family unit. Given any amount of time men glide through the home calming any household storm, simmering a sibling bickering bout, and giving to his wife with the truest love and affection money cannot buy.
I could not be more blessed and more honored for my husband and all his struggles to take on his role as a true daddy in our house. We will be able to look back on these years and be thankful that each of us was afforded time to be home with our kids and watch them grow in different phases of their lives; no one ever knows how rewarding being a stay at home dad or a stay at home mom job really is until they have done it. We will never regret any sacrifices and or struggles during this time because we gave of ourselves to our children, selflessly and with the utmost love.
Going about dinner with my family tonight, I realized how much I have been able to enjoy my children outside of my blog. For the years leading up to this moment I shared almost the two full years of my children’s lives, the first two years of which were for my twins and before were the months leading up to their birth. The fodder of their lives and daily isms is what has driven this blog, making this mostly about parenthood, parenting, being a mother, their antics. All roles and life experiences to revel in, but I am realizing more and more how much I have enjoyed the privacy of my children growing up in front of me, my memories, my moments; our moments.
My little blog will now be evolving and growing as my children have. Visually recognizing that our relationship is truly about parenthood and parenting, mother and child, our values as parents withstanding the test of time, societal pressures, growing pains, individuality, fitting inside the box. Am I fulfilling my children’s lives with cultural enrichment, worldly values and acceptances, and ensuring blinding and bigoted boundaries are eliminated from their being? Call their experience enlightenment or a sense of ascension but I want my children to be just that, children.
Children of their own pace and world away from PR influence, marketing, and main stream of the best and greatest toy, gadget, gizmo, and whatchamajig. Full of wonder and imagination. Encouraged. Loved. Cherished. Appreciated. Supported. I think with a “mommy” or parent blog we are too busy touting our “look at me and look at my kid” that we forget to teach, encourage, cherish, educate. A blog is too much of a public parenthood platform that we are too busy sharing that awesome moment that we forget to live in that moment. Fantastic to put that moment forever into electronic history, but what about just living in the moment. Living with our children. Seeing what we can learn as parents, teaching our children the power of responsibility, ownership, love, respect, values, regret, and the lessons to be learned from these moments.
I watched the other day as a parent went on a tirade about soda served to her young child. While I do not like my children to have soda or other processed drinks including bottled fruit juices (grape, apple, etc), I also know that I can educate them at a young age the affects of these beverages can wreak on their overall health from teeth to how it affects their overall being, thwarting any outside influence to peer pressure them into the sea of wasted humanity. But with watching this parent’s tirade I watched her never take ownership to share or educate her child about soda, any soda, nor did she educate others about her beliefs for her children and that they are her own and to be respected regardless of general society and despite what others believed to be socially okay. In part, her parenthood was so public she forgot to parent her own child and self. We all fuck up, we make mistakes, but evermore, a part of making those mistakes is owning them and teaching our children that we make mistakes, own them, learn from these errors, grow!
Now that my twins have reached the exact age of their oldest sibling when this blog was erected, my eldest son was just about four when I started this blog, I am seeing another turning point to talk about what I do to be a responsible parent. How my children will interact in the unknown future world and hope that my small influence on them Â to be righteous, fierce, honest, modest, and simplistic will be contagious. My hope is that this contagion to spread among the masses that being a parent and a public parent means to be held accountable and not inflict some executive order of power that we lack education toward our children in values, decision making and critical thinking. That we value our privacy and publicity as parents and these are in sync with one another.These characteristics should not be left to the institutionalized educators, the education should begin with parenthood. Basic parenting, basic adulthood, and simple humanity.
I only hope that my children know that each human puts their pants on the same each day, and by no means will they ever think themselves more superior, and that my most basic love and adoration for them will be enough to fill their hearts as they have filled mine for dozens of lifetimes.