Thoughts on Parenting
Confessions and Justifications
For weeks, I have been trying to write a piece about my growth as a parent and my thoughts on the subject.
It started out as an essay titled “How Not to Raise a Spoiled Child” in which I would snarkily mention various infractions that I’ve witnessed and then address them with better methods that I’ve developed and honed over my many years (three) of parenting many children (one). To balance it, I would then admit my own shortcomings in this area. While my daughter is not addicted to a phone or tablet screen — yet — she is spoiled by cable and DVR. She only wants to watch “her” shows, she often asks me to rewind it so she can see her favorite scenes, and she doesn’t much like sitting through commercials, either. I often want to give her the “When I was your age, we only saw cartoons for a few hours on Saturday mornings and that was it!” speech, but it’s not her fault. It’s my fault.
Then, it became a piece called “I Can Imagine a Life Without Children.” In it, I would write about how much I adore my kid and how much joy she brings me, but also how difficult it is to be an involved parent and how exhausting it can be, how I miss sleeping until 11 on Sundays before spending three hours at brunch, followed a nap, before finally getting my day started around dinnertime.
“I didn’t say I was different or better. I’m not! Hell, I sympathize; I sympathize completely. Apathy is a solution. I mean, it’s easier to lose yourself in drugs than it is to cope with life. It’s easier to steal what you want than it is to earn it. It’s easier to beat a child than it is to raise it. Hell, love costs: it takes effort and work.”
— Detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman), Seven
But then I realized something. These were projections — my attempts to justify my life as it is now while also bragging about how great of a parent I am.
One of the many things I learned while I was in therapy was that when I feel like a underachiever or a disappointment or a failure, my OCD kicks into overdrive. If I have a bad day, I’ll come home and immediately begin to focus on anything that is out of place or not put away, the insatiable need for neatness and order rising within me because it’s my subconscious’s method of regaining control over something.
And this was the same thing. I wanted to announce my greatness as a parent not only to explain why I’m old and boring now, but also to prove that I’m not completely lost. I wanted to criticize parents that spoil their children because I worry about money and providing. I think about my life before being a parent because it was so much simpler. It’s easier to drink and watch football than it is to teach letters and numbers.
My biggest worry, even more than retirement, is that I will not have done all I can for my child(ren). I can’t help it. My emotional side wants to shield her even if my logical side knows that this is not only impossible, but also detrimental. As far as my daughter, she’s just living, having a great time with her cousin, her imaginary friend, and her parents, playing, reading, and asking countless questions. The things that I fret over barely even register with her.
Kids are smarter and more resilient than we give them credit for. Thankfully, my wife is a teacher so she balances me out.
For weeks, I haven’t known how to start this and now I don’t know how to end it. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe that’s the perfect way to end it.
I just don’t know. But I’m trying to figure it out.
Christopher Pierznik is the author of eight books, all of which can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. In addition to his own site, his work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, and many more. He has been quoted on Buzzfeed and Deadspin. Subscribe to his monthly reading review newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.