10 October 2013

I Quit

Yesterday I quit as a parent.

I do this sometimes to prevent me from killing my children, or abandoning them on a street corner far, far from home, or selling them at the local farmer's market in exchange for sausages and some fresh asparagus. It's a survival technique, for all of us.

I love my kids to death and would throw myself in front a bus for them, but honestly? Sometimes I look at them and think: WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE AND WHY DO YOU STILL LIVE HERE?? Why do you eat all my food, and destroy my house, and rob me of my money and youth and vitality? What kind of sick karma is this that I deserve this??!

The answer? I GOT PREGNANT. Obviously.

Adorable bump, but not me
Me. Conception to delivery, both pregnancies. Good times.

So in the nearly 16 years experience I've had so far trying to raise small people into something other than serial killers, cult leaders or accountants, I've learned when to throw in the towel on the day; when it would be better for everyone involved for mommy to take a mental break and let the kids be raised by wolves or squirrels or honey bees or whatever. And mostly these realizations come after having said or done something completely ridiculous in the name of parenting, to be inevitably filed under the heading "Questionable Parenting Choices."

Case in point? The day I said to my toddler daughter, completely seriously:

"No! No! NO! We do NOT hit our brother in the face with a toilet brush!!"

Because who says that in real life? More to the point: when in real life should you ever NEED to say that?

What kind of parenting decisions was I making that led to my toddler daughter beating her brother in the face with a toilet brush??

Really makes you think about where you're at in life, you know? Makes you think about your choices.

It's not that I don't try very hard to be a good parent: I do. I make an effort; I strain myself sometimes. Once I pulled a muscle.

And it's not like I'm a bad parent, either, I don't think. At least not on a regular basis. I mean, sure, there was the one time I packed up the kid for a day's outing and it wasn't until we had driven around the corner from the house and the boy inquired from the back seat, "Um, aren't we forgetting someone?" that I realized I'd forgotten the baby at home, but that was an honest mistake. She was brand new. I was super tired. And I had been carting around one kid and all his crap for five years by that point so I really felt like I had packed everything I was supposed to have. Can I really be blamed for forgetting someone who had only lived with us for, like, 24 days? I don't think so. Also it's not like she was totally alone or in any real danger: the dog was there with her (and if I've learned anything from children's literature, it's that dog-nannies are very reliable. More so than people-nannies, sometimes. AND ... they don't shrink your blouses in the wash, either.) So really, it could happen to anyone.

The point is that I try, but when trying doesn't work, I know when to quit. Know your limits and play within it, I always say: as in alcohol consumption, so too in parenting. And when I find myself saying things like,

"The next time you do that, I'm going to let your brother sit on your face and fart. Is that what you want??"


"Don't let the dog lick you in the mouth ... she eats her own poop!"


"The front seat. It's on the front seat. The front. Front! FRONT!  WHERE. IS. THE. FRONT?!"


"You don't have cancer, dude. It's a mosquito bite."

that's a sure sign to give up, call in the wildlife substitute parents, and pack it in for the day. I'll be back on the clock tomorrow.