Over the weekend, “Saturday Night Live” ran a parody of the earnest and sentimental “my kid is joining the military!” commercials. Only instead of the man’s daughter joining the army, she joined ISIS. The target of the bit, to these eyes, was the commercials themselves, not the war and not even ISIS, but some people got upset.
Similarly, controversy erupted over this winter’s American Sniper, a Best Picture nominee and huge box office hit. Some thought the film fudged the facts, others felt it was pro-war propaganda that removed any shades of gray from the discussion. Of course, anyone who dared criticized the movie – including funnyman Seth Rogen – was basically accused of treason, despite the fact that there is no correlation between criticizing a film and criticizing the troops or the military.
War is a highly politicized topic, especially a war as amorphous and infinite as the one in which we’re currently embroiled. Which probably makes this post a bad idea.
I spend a lot of time complaining about all the things parenting has taken away from me. My energy, my free time, any instance of silence, the ability to open a bag of chips without a mop-headed midget running in and demanding all of them, without even knowing what they are.
But today I’m looking at the bright side.
Parenting doesn’t just take, it gives. And over the past five years, I’ve acquired some amazing talents that never would have manifested if I weren’t responsible for a child.
Because with great responsibility comes great power…
Last week, I wrote a piece about many ways parents constantly second-guess themselves. I surely missed a lot of examples, which was inevitable; every parent has different anxieties, and every parent questions themselves in different ways.
But no matter the specific details of your insecurities, it all boils down to asking yourself the same thing: Am I a good parent?
In a recent post for Lifetime Moms, I mentioned that the issue of my son having “bad influences” – i.e., influences that aren’t his parents – wasn’t one I was expecting to encounter for a while. I expected him to be primarily under the influence of me for the next few years.
And then he met Xander.
And Xander ruined my son’s childhood.
Being a parent is hard.
You start from scratch every day and run until you’re empty, hoping that you’ve made a dent, that you did something right, that one of your lessons actually sticks. One of the intentional ones.
But you won’t know for a while. Not for years, not truly. And the lack of feedback, direct or otherwise, makes the job even harder. It’s impossible to know how well you’re doing and thus it’s very easy to succumb to self-doubt.
This is why judgment from other parents is so obnoxious; it’s redundant. Every decent parent already constantly questions their own parenting.
Last year around this time, I wrote a fairly irrational post about Valentine’s Day, in which I questioned its prominence and the things it teaches children.
I must have woken up on the wrong side of my heart-shaped bed, because I don’t really care all that much about the holiday and its harmless traditions, and I don’t usually get carried away about things like that.
This year I’m making amends by embracing both Valentine’s Day and my son’s involvement in it.
Making the decision to have children is a big deal. There are a lot of factors to consider.
Luckily, I’m here. And I made a handy flowchart to help you figure out if parenting is for you.
There’s this intersection where I grew up, not far from my parents’ house, which gives me pause every time I drive through it.
Years ago, right after I got my license, I got into a car accident at that intersection. As I was turning left under the light, I somehow missed one car that hadn’t yet cleared the way. I walked away dazed but unscathed, my mother’s beloved Maxima crumpled up behind me.
When I visit my hometown, I inevitably find myself back at the scene of the crime. It’s impossible to go anywhere worthwhile (i.e., the package store, the bar, the restaurant with all the beer) without crossing that intersection. And every time I drive past it, I recall – if not relive – that accident. And I wonder what I could have done differently. Which isn’t entirely healthy.
It reminds me of being a parent.