There a lots of different types of parents: Good parents, bad parents, absentee parents, foster parents, single parents, gay parents, neo-Nazi parents, etc.
And then there are those cute little couples who have children and live near family. But I hardly consider them parents at all.
Real parents do it all by themselves.
At least the people who use nannies have to pay for it.
To quote Mom and Buried, “If you live close enough to your parents that you can ditch your baby on them and go out once a week, you shouldn’t even count as parents!”
I don’t disagree. Having a kid is a full-time job with no vacations. Except when it isn’t. And when you have constant backup that affords you the opportunity to sleep in and have frequent date nights and dump the kid off whenever you need a breather, then you’re only working part-time. And you don’t totally get it.
If you live close enough to your parents or your in-laws that they provide babysitting services at least once a week, you’ve lost your privileges. (Not that giving the kids to Grandma doesn’t have its downside.)
If you live close enough to relatives that they happily come by and take your baby off your hands for a few hours, then I don’t want to hear about it.
If you live close enough to relatives that you don’t have to leave your kid in the backseat with the window cracked just to get through a grocery run without a teething baby howling at your side, then listen closely as I play the world’s smallest violin for you.
If you live close enough to relatives that they regularly provide you with home-cooked meals, or take your baby overnight, or pop by to help with the housecleaning, or go on weekly Costco runs for diapers, then you’d better stop your whining before I punch you in the throat.
Ironically, the conversation that spurred this post arose while my wife and I were visiting my family and were thus able to enjoy a date night without the baby. Obviously, Mom and Buried’s comment above came in a moment of weakness, when she was temporarily emboldened by the prospect of a night free from her mercurial little tyrant of a baby (I say that with love). You should have heard the things she said once we’d gotten good and drunk!
I by no means begrudge any parent who is able to get some help once in a while. God knows without a “date night” or two, my wife and I would be at each other’s throats. But a monthly date night is one thing – a necessary reprieve from what can sometimes seem a punishing, thankless task. A weekly reprieve, though? It’s incredibly convenient, and more power to you, but it’s not quite the real deal.
Any parent knows that it’s not the single day or the single week or the single month that grinds you down. It’s the consecutive days, the series of weeks, the endless months that contribute to a deep-set fatigue and forever-raised-stress level that makes having a kid so difficult. It’s the accumulation that kills.
I’m sure there’s a contingent out there who want to give me the same kind of shit I’m shoveling out, because I’m a dad and not a mom – not the real deal! Because I’m a new parent who has yet to experience the terrible twos or toddler-hood and etc. – not the real deal! Because I only have one kid and not two or three – not the real deal! And that contingent is right. There are varying degrees of difficulty when it comes to parenting, and some versions are far more difficult than others.
In reality, of course, there is no such thing as “real parents” or “fake parents.” Everyone’s circumstances are different, everyone has their own set of challenges.
But I think we can all agree that having free help is some kind of bullshit.
To us parents that are lucky for a break once every six weeks, it’s easy to envy those that always have the cavalry at their beck and call. And, as evidenced by this post, it’s even easier to get bitter about it.
In other news: we’re moving closer to my parents!