Recently, I noticed a friend of mine had posted something on Facebook that read along the lines of, “having one of those days where I feel as if I’ve failed as a parent.” Miles may only be 6 ½ months old, but I think that all parents, regardless of how old your children may be, can relate to that feeling of failure and worthlessness sometimes. It sucks, right?
Example: The other night, Miles was pulling up on the sofa to
gently pet my old tabby cat, Mai Tai. I was so impressed with his determination, and I was so proud of my sweet boy for pulling up and standing on his own, that I immediately grabbed my phone to document the moment (you know, because if you don’t take a picture it didn’t happen).
As soon as I snapped the photo, he fell backwards and landed on his rear end. He wasn’t hurt, but it definitely startled him, which in turn upset him. And in that moment of crying, I felt like a total jerk. I was so focused on getting a stupid photo to share on stupid Facebook that I didn’t have a free hand to catch him. Parenting Failure 101.
Photo taken just moments before asshole parenting began.
Yes, I know he’s going to fall, and I’m not always going to be there to catch him. He’s going to get stitches, or break a bone, or at least get a bump on the head, while running around as an unsupervised and insane toddler. But still…I should have been there in that moment. So when someone says they’re having a bad parenting day, even as a very new mom, I get it.
I watch a lot of TV Land. Well, not as much as I used to…before Miles, I could spend an entire Saturday watching reruns. Coincidentally, in those before Miles days, I also never found time to finish anything I started because I was “too busy.” And now, I’m TOTALLY one of those parents who will give the side-eye to anyone without children who says they are too busy for anything. Oh, you have the time, you just don’t realize it… (side note: I wouldn’t trade a single super busy moment for anything in the world…it’s busy in the most awesome way possible)
I digress. Two of our all-time fave shows are “Roseanne” and “The Cosby Show.” When we got pregnant, we always remarked during either program that we would parent this way or that way; we discussed how we’d handle situations needing discipline, difficult times calling you to come together as a family, schoolwork, dating, and even holidays. The two shows have seemingly different parenting styles, but they do accomplish a common goal. And the closer I watched, the more I realized that on some days, you’re going to be a Huxtable, and on other days, you’re going to be a Conner.
We may strive to make all of Miles’ baby food from scratch, choosing organic and sustainably grown fruits and vegetables cultivated by happy, smiling farmers and washed by the tears of alpacas, gently steaming then mashing/pureeing to the perfect consistency (Huxtable). But we may have an insanely hectic, busy, demanding week that might not allow for such luxuries, and we may just ::gasp:: give Miles baby food…FROM A JAR (Conner).
I hope to one day include all of our children in our current Saturday night tradition of making our own pizza (Huxtable). It’s a healthier option, and it’s a ton of fun. But, I am well aware that as kids get older and involved in extracurricular activities, make friends, develop their own little social lives, there are some nights that a pizza from Dominos will just have to work (Conner) if it means it will gives us a little more time at the dinner table together.
We could have a girl one day; a girl that will turn into a teenager. And should this teenage girl decide to wear make-up before I have deemed her age appropriate (30 years old), we’ll have a discussion. And that discussion may be thoughtful, full of life lessons, and reaffirm her value, self-worth and natural beauty (Huxtable). Or, that discussion may tell her to stop gussying up like a 1920s lady of the night, and put her Garanimals back on, because you’re always going to be my baby(Conner). It really depends on mom’s mood that day, y’know?
TV could be a special treat, reserved for the weekends, or limited to half an hour of PBS programming a day. Or, it could bring a peace that only things like Oomi Zoomi or Bob the Builder can provide, if you’ve got a crazy four year old climbing the walls while you try to nurse your newborn.
Our children will have a curfew. Should they choose to break that curfew, they may receive a stern lecture and end up grounded for two weeks. Or, if they really
scare the shit out of me and show up well past
curfew, I will absolutely freak out and remind them that there are axe murders, rapists, cults, witches, zombies, minotaurs and vampires out there trying to kidnap my sweet little babies (another side note: I might have watched too many episodes of American Horror Story this week).
They could totally be after your children…I’ve seen them in The Gap.
We may strive to protect our children, keep them safe, and prevent them from making mistakes. Or, we may know of their intentions, and do what my mom frequently did: give them enough rope to hang themselves. Because sometimes, that’s the only way kids (me) learn a lesson.
At the end of the day, even though the Huxtables and the Conners had different lifestyles and socioeconomic statuses, they were the same people: parents who were there. Parents who loved, nurtured, and did the absolute best they could, whether or not they realized it at the time. We will make mistakes, but we will continue to be the best parents we can be, because our little angels will keep us in top form…trust me.
Your parenting style will change; it will grow and evolve, just as your kids do. You will have good days, but you will also have better days, because as long as you’re there, you’ll never have a bad day (not one that two glasses of Merlot won’t fix, anyway).
Clair Huxtable: “So, Cliff, you don’t want one more?” (referring to a child)
Cliff Huxtable: “Dear, there are times I don’t even want the ones we have.”
Becky Conner: “Dad, what’s all this fuss about Mother’s Day? We don’t get a Kid’s Day.”
Dan Conner: “Some day, my precious angel, you too will be a parent…
And then you will realize that every day is Kid’s Day.”
70% Conner and 30% Huxtable,