Monday, August 12, 2013

The Horrible Parents Club

A friend of mine was recently accused of being a horrible parent. In fact, I think it happened a few hours ago. He wrote a post in reply to that.

Dear World,
I am a horrible father. I woke up at dawn today to get everything ready for my 5-year-old's first day of Kindergarten. I spent the next few hours playing with my new-born daughter, until it was time to pick up big sister from school. I let her go play next door while little sister napped, did some cleaning, and checked in with school. While big sister began eating dinner, I spent some much needed “me” time trying to socialize online. Mommy will be home in a couple hours, then it is time for big sister to go off to bed for another exciting day of school tomorrow. Little sister, mommy, and I will spend some time cuddling and playing, and then I have several hours of homework to do into the wee hours of the night. I will get a couple hours of sleep, and then do it all again tomorrow, with a smile!
I am a horrible father because I do not currently have a job. I understand the importance of having a parent at home for my precious children; we choose who works by current earning potential. But, I am a horrible father.
I am a horrible father because sometimes my house isn’t spotless. I am in the middle of 12+ years of clinical and administrative medical studies, and I know that even though it is driving me into the ground now, it will provide a beautiful future for my angels. But, I am a horrible father.
I am a horrible father because I censor my children from ‘certain’ people. While it is important to let my children learn all cultural aspects of our society, I do not think it is appropriate for a 4-year-old to come in contact with marijuana. But, I am a horrible father.
I am a horrible father because I do not advocate for illegal substance use. I don’t spend all my time rallying for other families who have lost their children over drug-related charges because I don’t have that time to spare, nor would I advocate the intent. But, I am a horrible father.
I am a horrible father because I let other people have time with my children. I know, a loving auntie who treats my little girl like a princess is such a bad thing! I have taken the time to gauge who I can trust with my children, and who I cannot. But, I am a horrible father.
I am a horrible father because I don’t keep up with everyone else’s drama. I prioritize the time and effort I do have to make “home” a great place for the girls; making nutritious meals, cleaning, and striving to improve our lives every day. I know, I should keep track of extended family drama, but my girls are more important. I love my babies, but, I am a horrible father!
So look at this horrible father and pass judgment over me! I don’t mind at all. Take a moment and ask mom if I am a horrible father; she’ll probably slap you. Take a moment to ask big sissy if I am a horrible father; she’ll laugh and say, “No! I love my daddy!” Take a moment to ask my baby if I am a horrible father; she’ll just look at me and smile the cutest little smile! I almost feel sorry for them, not knowing what a horrible father I am.
So I promise, world, that I will try harder every day to be a better father to my children. Your judgments and personal agendas are far superior to those of my family unit. So, I am sorry for being such a horrible father.
 And I realized that some folks would see a jobless parent who stays home with their children as a bad parent. Someone who has set aside the drama of their childfree life in favor of worrying about the important things. 
 I am a jobless parent. I do not get paid money for the work I do, but I am working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every single day for the last 3.25 years since my son made his grand entrance to this life. I kiss boo boos, I wipe noses, I potty train, I fix broken things, do more laundry than should be humanly possible. I cook, I clean, I shop for food. I teach, I learn, I go on walks that are very very slow. I pick up the same toys 50 times in one week. 
 I have chosen to stay home. Daycare would cost about what I could make. Well, a GOOD daycare where I knew my kiddos were safe. I have chosen to be here with them day in and day out for as long as I can be. As they grow, their demands on me will be less, their time in school will be longer, and I can rejoin the workforce when this job requires less of my time.
Some parents might call me too strict, as I expect my child to learn manners and be polite. Or some might think I am horrible because I let him explore the playground without me hovering at his back. I might be terrible because I let him get muddy in the creek, but you could call me simply awful for the times I say please do not play in the dirt right now when we are not equipped to do a clothing change on the fly and have more places to go before home. I might be horrid because I want him to eat his fruits and veggies, and some might call me wrong because I have let him have days where he has had three small bags of M&M's and later on a slice of pizza was dinner. 
Parents are judged a lot. Everything we do that someone sees is criticized. Everything our children say and do is held up and examined by other people. I have been guilty of this. A child was rude to Liam, and I mean downright MEAN. I immediately had the thought of "What on earth are his parents teaching him!" I am sure that some parents who have seen me with Liam and Evie think I might be doing things wrong. Everyone has their own way of being a parent. But unless you are hurting your child or neglecting their basic needs, maybe its time to find a way to realize that there is no One True Way. If your kids are fed, clothed, have a warm bed and a set of arms to find comfort in, maybe someone should find a way to tell you what you are doing RIGHT. All too often I see criticism from others in the parenting community, online and in person... I want to start telling others what I see that was RIGHT, not wrong. 
I am tired of parents beating each other up. Lets all just be parents together and learn from Bambi. If you can't say somethin' nice, don't say nuthin' at all! 
But if you want to call me a horrible mama for being jobless and having rules, feel free. I will OWN that role! Welcome to the Horrible Parents Club. Pants are optional, but healthy foods are a must, and you must hold hands when crossing the street. Bed time is at 8, and yes, you have to take a bath at least once a week.
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