Like most mothers I moan about my children from time to time. (Usually 8 am to 8 pm.) I groan about their behavior. I complain about their foibles and squawk about their tendency to leave their clothes wherever they fall. But truth be told, most of the moaning and groaning is merely skimming the surface. Because once you get past the surface, they are really good kids.
Not just good kids. But easy kids. Sure, they bug me for additional computer time or an extra cookie. They sulk and sometimes storm off in a huff when they don’t get their own way. They can be materialistic at times. But so do/can I. And I’m 45….
The thing is, parenting is tough. Under the best of circumstances parenting can be tireless and relentless and thankless and lots of other lesses. The occasional ‘mores’ usually make up for the lesses, but let’s face it: no matter which way you slice it, it’s tough in a round-the-clock-no-break-no-real-vacation-eighteen-years-if-you’re-lucky kind of way.
After a recent round of glowing parent/teacher conferences for small(er) boy child, my husband and I clinked and congratulated each other on a parenting job well done. That said, we also acknowledged how lucky we are. Because for all we do do as parents, a great deal of it boils down the hand we were dealt. And frankly, after a bit of a shaky start, fate dealt us a pretty ace hand.
I say easy because there are parents out there who are doing the regularly scheduled grunt work of parenting but with a whole bunch of asterisks tacked on. Parents of kids who need extras, who need mores. And honestly, if I feel like being a mother is difficult at times, if I feel like toasting myself occasionally, then surely those parents–the parents of whom I speak, the ones battling all the lesses while managing to keep up with the mores, surely they deserve a bottle.
I’m talking about the parents who daily face the need to explain to others why their child may not fit neatly into any of the boxes we’ve lined up for them, or the parents who frequently have to cope with other people talking shit about their kid. I’m talking about the parents who bear the assumption that their child’s behavior is due solely to their lack of parenting ability. I’m talking about the parents who are continually searching for ways to make sure their child gets the support they need, justifying that support to those who feel he or she is dragging other kids down, and doing it without labeling or stigmatizing their child. I’m talking about the parents of kids who struggle to make friends, the ones who never get invited to the birthday party, parents of children whose borders are far enough outside the lines that it makes them seem like other. I’m talking about the parents of kids who require a multitude of extras–support or time or classes, explanations or understanding. Or the ones who have a child with medical issues which require vigilance or physical disabilities which make all the things we take for granted that much more difficult. I’m talking about the parents of children who are likely going to struggle against the tide, or the ones of the kids who fall through the cracks, who have genetics working against them, or just circumstance.
We’re all parents. There are joys. There are moments that suck ass. There are lots in between. I don’t love my kids any less because they’re relatively easy to parent, just as the parents who face different or tougher challenges, those who face the mores, don’t love their children better or harder. It’s not a question of who’s the better parent.
So to those of you out there facing all the mores during the lesses, to those of you who may sometimes feel like you’re going uphill, backward in gale force winds…I raise my glass to you as well.