Could we change our attitude, we should not only see life differently, but life itself would come to be different. ~ Katherine Mansfield

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Parenting. Whoa.

"They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you."
~Philip Larkin, from This Be the Verse

We all know that no one escapes childhood unscathed. Even those of use with "good" parents enter adulthood with our own particular brand of baggage courtesy of mom and dad. Reflecting on my own childhood is one thing, though. Knowing that I am now actually messing up my kids in my own special way is a totally new level of hell. It's enough to make me crazy.

My head is constantly full of conflicting advice and parental chatter. For example, when I can't help but kiss Jude 1000 times in a row, will this someday be construed by a therapist as a disregard for boundaries and an invasion of personal space? Because I prefer to carry Aidan in public instead of allowing him to walk, am I introducing a lifelong dependency on his overbearing mother? How long do we let the boys bathe together? One is a better sleeper since we used the "cry it out" method and the other still wants to be rocked to that okay? If I let Jude pick out his shirt but force him to wear socks, am I sending mixed messages? Will my boys be vain if I keep telling them how cute they are? If I tell them when I'm proud does that teach them to value my praise above their own feelings? And by taking them to a political rally, will I be ensuring their future experimentation with Republicanism as a form of rebellion?

I need a drink. (Can I drink in front of them?)

It's a lot to deal with. Larkin ends his poem with the sage advice "Get out as early as you can, And don't have any kids yourself." Well shit. Since it's too late to exercise my right choose the only option I am left with is to celebrate the highlights of my parents' careers, forgive them their shortcomings, and hope that one day my boys will do the same.

I give you:

Stuff My Parents Taught Me That Didn't Fuck Me Up 
( ode of sorts)

  1. We are your parents, first and foremost. You won't always like us but we won't let this stop us from protecting you.
  2. If we mess up, we'll apologize. Even if it's years later. We're not perfect. 
  3. We will have dinner as a family whenever possible without the crutch of TV, books or magazines, or any electronic device.
  4. From school plays to soccer games, one or both of us will be at all of them.
  5. You are responsible for cleaning your own room. Live like a pig or don't. 
  6. Crying is an acceptable response to any situation, even for the boys.
  7. Dark humor is totally appropriate.
  8. If you ask us for help we'll give you all we've got.
  9. No R-rated movies until you're old enough. No violent movies or video games in our house ever.
  10. We don't care what your friends' parents are doing. Please refer to #1.
  11. Until you come of age, you cannot drink in our home. We're not those parents.
  12. If you drink at someone else's home call us for a ride and we won't freak until the next morning.
  13. If you are going to curse, fine, but you better watch your fucking mouth at school and in front of your grandparents.
  14. Graduation from high school is mandatory. After that you can figure out what's best for you.
  15. You can ask us anything and we'll tell you the truth, even if it's painful and ugly.
  16. We have no expectation of your adulthood other than wanting you to be happy and not to hurt others. 
  17. Life will be easier if you marry someone who likes your family. 
  18. If you get lost and refer to it as an adventure you'll either learn to take things less seriously or develop a lifelong distrust of the word adventure. It's up to you.
  19. What is is. If you can't change it, then you can at least control how you react to it.
  20. A good credit score will help you in life. You'll learn this one way or another.
  21. You can always move home.
  22. No matter what, even if you grow up to be a murderer, we love you. 
That last one is a direct quote. Thanks, mom and dad. 


troy said...

I love your blog, just to let you know!

Ashley Columbus said...

Thank you!

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