Friday, September 20, 2013

Parents: Selfless or Selfish?

Oh the joys of parenthood...

Back in my baby-less days, I used to engage in the type of conversations that I now find insulting and inconsiderate. I’d rant on about how parents should control their children’s temper tantrums and complained whenever a child so much as breathed in public. I would shoot parents the death stare and wonder why in the world they weren’t able to take hold of the situation…little did I know…in fact, I didn’t know SHIT.

As parents, some of us are blessed with kids that we can take everywhere; kids that find restaurant highchairs awesome hangout spots and are willing to sit through an entire meal. Those lucky fucks only propagate the image of the “poor parenting skills” of the rest of the percentage of the parental population; whose children think a restaurant is in fact an obstacle course and that menus are flying boomerangs conveniently placed at arms reach just waiting to be hurled across the air. I’d so wish I could claim that my child belongs to the prior set of well-behaved souls, but in actuality I think she is the founding member of a new breed of excessively hyperactive and “curious” species of little humans. Back in my days of pre-parental close-mindedness, when I too was independent and free of the pressure of keeping another being alive, I thought that kids were a product of their parents; that as parents you are responsible for each of their character traits. I was wrong. As a friend of mine once pointed out, these things come pre-wired and we’re simply here to try to channel their energies and personalities in a certain direction.

Soooo, when we say that our child is strong-willed, what we’re really trying to say is that they’re bat-shit crazy and we simply have no clue how to control them. The thing is, we have no power over how, when or where our little gifts from above are going to decide to have full-on meltdowns because you didn’t let them plow through a rack of perfectly organized shoes. And furthermore, just because they do this doesn’t make us bad parents, it makes us really really patient motherfuckers who have the self-control to calmly address and tame the flailing spasm that is our child, instead of pretending like they’re not ours and running in the opposite direction. You see, people are too quick to judge (I speak from experience). ”If that were my child, I’d have it trained like a horse.”…”Ugh, why can’t these people control their child, what are they animals?” Well lady, guess what…you come try telling my utterly determined 13-month old that no, she cannot walk around on her own and that she has to stay strapped to a stroller so as to ensure that your shopping experience is pleasurable. Not gunna happen, bitch. (Ok, that needed to be let out…)

Believe me, for the most part, when we take our children out into the world it’s because we’re suffering from a severe case of cabin fever. There’s only so much entertainment a house full of toys can provide a child (and mom) day after day. So we pack up our cars and diaper bags with all the useless crap you could ever possibly need and head out for a few hours of public humiliation. Believe it or not getting kicked square in the face at PetCo because I refuse to take my child to see the fishies for the umpteenth time is not my idea of fun. Nor is finding out you’ve basically stolen half of Gap Baby ‘cause your mini me was stuffing random items into the stroller while you were shopping for a birthday gift. Almost going to jail for petty thievery just isn’t part of my bucket list.

With all that out in the open I’ve come up with a few arguable points that call into question whether most parents are selfish assholes or selfless super humans…you be the judge:
  • Under no circumstances will you EVER disrupt your child’s naptime. The house can be burning down, Aunt Mae’s last dying wish could be to spend precious few moments with your son/daughter, you name it…if it’s during naptime, you can stick it where the sun don’t shine.
  • After well over a year of NEVER being able to go out with your other half on an adult date, you finally decide it’s time to overlook all the babysitting horror stories most first time parents cling on to for dear life and ask your niece’s significant other to babysit…only to find out she’s broken up with her and you’re back at square zero. While I believe getting pissed at your niece is irrational, is it too much to ask that she extend her unhappiness for just a little longer so you can at least go out to dinner? (C’mon people, I think this merits a universal…FML!)
  • Your gym offers a questionable daycare service that, again, you have never opted to go for. Then, 13 months into this whole baby ordeal you decide the day has come to when you no longer want to go to the gym at 5am while baby is still asleep. Instead you are going to go at the perfectly perky hour of 10 am. You pack your kid in the car, arrive ready to tackle a workout while actually awake…and you’re met with the surprise that the daycare people are nowhere to be found. So you have to leave your human version of the Energizer Bunny strapped to her stroller while you simultaneously squat and sing the ABCs…

Need I go on…? I will just for craps and giggles…

  • Bath time has now become a communal occasion in which you have to actually shower with the offspring (because apparently staying in the tub is so boring compared to running around in the shower)…let me put it to you this way, I don’t mind teaching my child about body parts, but I’d like to avoid having those body parts poked and pinched as I’m doing so. I have soap in places I never thought possible on a daily basis.
  • And finally, when you ask me or any other mother to “meet up” for fill-in-the-blank or go over to your house at a certain time and we show up an hour late. Please understand that for that past hour we have been 1) waiting for our child to wake up from their nap, 2) stuffing said child’s face as quickly as possible so that we can 3) chase him/her down, clothe them and pick up the mess they left behind before walking out the door. Also, if we show up looking like a train wreck, please revisit the three steps we had to go through to get here and keep all comments to yourself.


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Glad I was drinking champagne that day...


3 comments:

  1. I really struggle with this idea of selfless parenting. Don't get me wrong, I'd LOVE to have a child someday, perhaps one of my own (and if so I would have to admit to what I'm about to say I've pondered), but I really, really cannot find one "selfless" reason yet to have a child of my own. I see childless people constantly getting a bad rep for being "selfish"...and while I can see plenty of reasons why someone would decide not to have children, I can also see plenty of selfless reasons NOT to have a child too. I can't say I can do that with having your own kid, because most reasons parents have mentioned can be brought back to the simple idea of, that's what the parent wanted. I have seen a lot of parents commenting about how "selfless" they are, and when I hear it, I immediately think back to the movie The Princess Bride, when Iniugo says "You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." I suppose when you get thrown up on by a screaming kid at 3am with many days of no sleep, that might be seen as very selfless, but then again, there are plenty of rewards that come along with parenting, so, it's not like parents aren't getting something out of it, so it can't be considered completely selfless. This comment is NOT intended to offend anyone, I am more looking for some form of polite introspection from others regarding the topic. Here are some things I personally struggle in thinking about when I think of having my own child in terms of selfishness. Perhaps someone here can counter my thought process.

    *You decided to have the child to fulfill a need in yourself, the child has no choice in this decision
    *You are adding to the overpopulation of the world, when there are plenty of children waiting to be adopted
    *You may wish your child to experience the good things in this world, but there are also plenty of terrible experiences. In essence, you are a child to go through all of these things because you decided to have a child.
    *If the child is born with a disability or disorder it is something they will have to suffer with for possibly the rest of their lives because you wanted a child.
    *You are expecting others to put up with your offspring when they act out in public
    *When you talk about your child, in essence it can be seen as talking about yourself...Another issue I have with parents gloating about their mystical power of selflessness...if its selfless parents shouldn't be looking for admiration.
    *You want a child because you want to continue your gene lineage, so a parent would have incentive to address their child's needs.
    *Lots of parents try to live new experiences through their children, seeing a mini me running around is probably gratifying in some regards.

    In general...I see all of these things as ideas that address the parents needs. They may also be addressing the child's needs, but there is also an incentive for the parents to do so.

    People I see as truly selfless....Mother Theresa...people who sacrifice their lives in order to save someone else, and beings like that that have no personal attachment to the lives they are trying to help.

    Again, this is NOT meant to be offensive, just a lot of thinking I've been doing in terms of a good selfless reason to have a child. Perhaps having a child IS very selfish...but maybe that form of selfishness is good and is worth it. Just wish i'd see some parents admitting to it if that were the case. Thanks :)

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    Replies
    1. Hello & Thank you for your feedback!

      You bring up some great points. I'd like to address your post by, first of all, clarifying that this blog post if by no means claiming that parents are selfless people. Rather it is intended to question the very same things you bring up. I especially agree with the following statement: "Perhaps having a child IS very selfish...but maybe that form of selfishness is good and is worth it." The decision to have a child is indeed a selfish one, however, the selfless part of it comes once the baby is born and as a parent you find yourself focusing completely on your child and setting aside the things that you would do for yourself prior to becoming a family.
      Furthermore, I by no means intend to compare myself of anyone else to Mother Theresa...sacred ground. I will go no further on this matter.
      I welcome this sort of discussion and urge other parents to chime in. Thank you once again for taking the time to read my blog and invest in this sort of exchange.

      One final note...There is no one that can persuade you (one way or the other) when it comes to making the decision of whether or not to have a child. However, as much as we parents may complain, gloat or nag about our situation, I think I can speak for almost every parent out there when I say that the good outweighs the bad by far! Good luck on your quest! :-)

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