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!
10 thoughts on “Real Parents Do It All By Themselves!”
Oh, but just wait until you have two. That’s when the parental visits from out of town cease to be helpful at all, unless your mom or dad is used to once dealing with a brood of 13 without breaking a sweat. And, of course, your parents will age before you have the next one! And, presumably, your parents are Baby Boomers. Not the world’s least self-involved workers. Nothing but sunny skies ahead.
Great post! I’ll have to share it with Mr. TwoBoysClub.
Gold Jacket’s yours…Shooter’s gonna choke!
Happy, look out!
I’m going to vent for a second. I have 3 small children and haven’t had a night to myself in years! At this point if a homeless person asked I’d let him watch them. Totally kidding. But I understand where you’re coming from.
Parents with family around don’t have a clue, do they?
Until you have a child with severe disabilities, no family or support system in place (you’ve got to live where you can get a job, unless you want to raise a kid who thinks it’s okay to live off the hard work of others) and NO social life or partner to have date nights with or more than a few minutes of peace twice weekly when you sacrifice minutes of sleep to catch up on major news stories or perhaps read a blog, you know not but the tip of the iceberg of parental challenges. Enjoyed the post.
We’re waiting for our parents to move closer to us…. (But not too close!). We moved to the country last year. So we are all by our selves. Has its perks though.
We have 4 kids ages 7-12. We have zero support even though most family live within 10-20 mins away. Looking forward to the oldest babysitting at some point so we can have a date night.
Ugh. Yes. I have always felt this way. Also, I feel it about people with partners with flexible schedules. My children are up at (or before 6am) and my husband is out the door by 7 every morning so a good sleep in for me is 8am on a Saturday and I get that once every month or so, because the husband often works Saturdays. I should get some kind of award.
My parents were babysitting for free twice a week so I could go back to college while working full time without having to pay for two more days of day care. So, I guess that counts as a cop out.
My mother remembers dragging me as a wailing baby through the grocery store. Maybe it was more acceptable back then.