Today I thought I’d give a gift to all you parents out there because it’s the holidays and I’m feeling oddly generous. As parents, it’s rare that anyone will pat us on the head and tell us our children are being perfectly nurtured and cared for. I won’t be that person – you’re an adult, you can pat your own damn head – but maybe I can make you feel a little better about the job you’re doing.
By sharing with you all the horrible things I do while raising my kids, you can see just how low the bar actually is and enjoy the fact that you’re killing it as a parent. And at the same time, maybe pray for my kids who are swimming in a metaphorical bathtub with a plugged-in hair dryer sitting precariously on the edge. They need all the luck they can get.
The first horrible thing: I leave my 6 & 10-year-old home alone while I go to the gym.
It’s just a couple hours, but a lot can happen in a couple hours. To be fair, I generously stick a portable phone by my 10-year-old and tell him, “Call me if someone is bleeding or dying. But maybe don’t bother if there is just the bleeding. Bodies have a lot of blood in them and I’ll probably be back before anyone completely runs out.” And then I’m off to enjoy a couple hours of not thinking about children, schedules, work, or literally anything. Maybe I’m occasionally plagued with the “what if the house catches fire” scenario but I quickly shut that foolishness down. My husband is a firefighter and his station is near our house so he can totally cover that nightmare while I’m attending to more important things like my mental and physical health.
The second horrible thing: I rarely cook an actual meal for my kids.
In his younger years, my stepfather was an amazing cook and spent countless hours trying to impart useful chef-ly knowledge upon me. Unfortunately, he was thwarted by the whole “I’m rubber, you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.” situation. Whatever he tried to share with me literally bounced off into the ether and to this day I can burn hard-boiled eggs like you’ve only fantasized of doing.
The third horrible thing: I use my kids’ gift cards and money for myself.
Did you happen to give my son a gift card to Dairy Queen for his birthday? Well, thank you! I really did enjoy that Blizzard. Did my daughter get a crisp, new $50 bill from you for Christmas? Well you are freaking awesome because I just had to have that yodeling pickle I saw on Amazon.
The way I see it, my husband gives our kids pretty much everything they ask for so they probably owe us a couple bucks at this point. I don’t even bother giving my kids an allowance anymore because they literally want for nothing. Ask them what they’d like for a holiday or birthday and their minds draw a blank because their rooms are stacked to the wall with all the crap they’ve accumulated. I eagerly await the day they move out and call me to complain that they can’t buy the latest iPhone XXSuperExtraModel because they had to pay for groceries instead. I’ll put on my super sad voice and tell them, “Awww, honey. How about you move back home and I’ll buy you a new iPhone XXSuperExtraModel. You’ll have to pay rent, do the yard work, and drive me around, but c’mon! It’ll be fun!”
The fourth horrible thing: I let my kids watch screens for daaaaaaaays.
I am at the point where I only allow myself to read articles that tell me screen time doesn’t destroy lives. I equally ignore anything that shows me actual proof that screen time makes our kids mean people, causes cancer and stunts their growth. They said all that crap about cigarettes and look what happened. Ok, bad analogy – I’ve never been good at those.
Regardless, I’m tired of fighting that battle. My son is a screen zombie and would marry his iPad if he could – so I hope they’re happy together. And when he comes to me after they decide to divorce, I will totally be there for him.
The fifth horrible thing: I don’t play with my kids or do crafts with them.
Look. I tried the whole Pinterest thing. I bought my kids all sorts of crafty things like fuzzy pipe cleaners and pop sickle sticks. I even went so far as to try science experiments with them which is truly above and beyond because my brain doesn’t do science. But after 10 completely inconsistent years of this, I’ve cut them off. At this point it takes all my energy to listen to my kids go on about Minecraft worlds or My Little Pony episodes so honestly, I’m pretty tapped out when it comes to actually “interacting” with them and giving them the “positive experience” of creativity.
The sixth horrible thing: I fantasize about being committed to a psychiatric facility just to get a break.
Vacation bitches! Seriously though. Some days I’m just exhausted and can think of nothing but sweet escape. For my husband and I, actual vacations and “date night” pretty much 100% of the time include the kids and kid-friendly activities, so yes – being stoned out of my mind on psychotropic nom noms sounds pretty damn uh-mazing to me. Obviously, I don’t want to be committed forever and potentially miss out on spending time around my kids but not actually interacting with them. That would be a bummer. I just want to have asylum in-and-out privileges and dibs on the corner room with all the windows. I mean, it would be pretty sweet if I could tell my kids, “Hey guys, I’m just stepping out to the asylum for a few. Call me if you’re bleeding or dying. But maybe don’t bother if there’s just the bleeding.”