So last week was kind of shitty.
Taxes screwed us. The New York City public school system lottery screwed us. I got sunburn. I went to the dentist. My landlord raised the rent. I got spoiled on “The Americans”. I thought Harrison Ford kind of ruined the Star Wars trailer. It was pretty lame all around.
As a result, I found myself in a bit of a funk for a few days. Thank god I have a kid.
I bitch a lot about parenting. A LOT. And I mean most of what I say.
Parenting sucks most of the time. There are rewards, sure. Sometimes a lesson sticks. Sometimes discipline works. But the everyday tasks of parenting aren’t much fun. It’s a lot of protecting and enforcing and feeding and cleaning and wrangling and rushing and barking and sighing.
And yet, even when I have a shitty day, being around my son is a guaranteed mood-lifter. It’s just impossible to stay in a funk with him around. When I walk in from a bad day at work and he delights in springing up from wherever he was “hiding” to surprise me, or he immediately enlists me in some superhero game, or he’s simply waiting at the top of the entry way, excited that I’m home, suddenly I’m smiling. He’s instant mood enhancement.
Sure, there are times the stresses of parenting get me down and put me in a bad state of mind, but even when Detective Munch is being a pain-in-the-ass, even when he starts screaming about wanting a TV show or a snack moments after he greets me at the door, even when he’s instant stress enhancement, it’s usually short-lived. It doesn’t take long before he does something that causes the gloom to evaporate.
I know what you’re thinking: I bitch about my son all the time! And you’re not wrong. But guess what? I don’t mean it. Well, I don’t mean most of it.
(I’m not going to defend my sense of humor or define sarcasm and satire and “sense of humor,” I’ve done that before.) Yeah, my son pisses me off a lot. It’s not easy being a parent, and it’s not easy living with a four-year-old moron. But I also understand that most of the reason he’s a moron – and most of the reason he pisses me off – is because he’s four, not because he’s him.
I can’t blame my kid for being a kid. (Again, I have, but I can’t.) And I don’t, not often, and not for long. Even when I do get mad at him and blame him, it doesn’t last, especially since for every frustrating thing he unintentionally does, there are ten hilarious things he unintentionally does, usually immediately afterwards.
Yes, there are a lot of instances in which I wish I could remind myself of everything I just wrote and stop myself from reacting too strongly to something he barely understands (like when he gets overwhelmed and has a bad experience at his first ever tee-ball game and suddenly wants to quit). I’m not a perfect parent. But even when I do forget, I usually calm down and correct myself, because his smiling little face does more to brighten my mood at the end of a bad day than just about anything (other than some bourbon and six-pack). Besides, he gives me a ton of material.
It’s pretty much impossible to stay mad at your kids (at least, it is at this clueless age). It’s impossible to stay mad at people who are so sweet, and so funny, and so adorably innocent. So much so that it can be annoying. Sometimes I want to take a few minutes to be pissed and frustrated and mad, but then he’ll call cupcakes “cupcapes” and I’m toast again.
Stupid unconditional love.