Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mommy Wars

 I'm recovering from a weirdo massive headache and fever combination that I was struck with yesterday and am still a bit foggy.  This probably isn't the best time to make a blog post, but since I live on the edge, I'll do it anyhow.  Plus, since there's a 94% chance that I'm going to insult a ton of people, this is a good excuse.  "I know not of what I speak, I'm still sort of sick."   Heh.

I made a Facebook post last week about how I really wish that I had more friends that are mothers, but that there are many reasons why I don't.  I got replies that implied that I was about to go on the attack.  That's possibly a valid assumption for those that know me casually, but I don't hatefully go after people with this blog, I simply feel that writing things down is the healthiest way to vent.  It avoids direct and random freak outs on the public at large, which could result in my being punched in the face.  After 30 years of age, you're just not as physically resilient as you used to be… regardless of how fearless you are about being hit.  Fact.

I am a judgmental person, and I'm not sorry.  When it comes to parenting, I admittedly tend to border on self righteous about my views.  Maybe it's because I've spent years dealing with the children of many parents and have seen it all.  I feel that has given me a unique perspective about the direct correlation between how folks parent, the effect it has on their kids, and how it has an impact on the way other people see those kids because of it.  Maybe it's just how I'm wired.  I don't honestly know, but I either way, I'm not likely to ever change.  So without further ado, here goes.

I don't always dislike children, but when I do, it's usually because their parents aren't doing their job."

(This is not universally true.  There are some great parents I know who realize that their kids have behavior issues, they do everything in their power to address it and find strategies to help their kids succeed.   I am NOT talking about this group of people. None of us got handed a guide book after delivering our babies and the majority of the folks I know love their children desperately and just do the very best they can do.)

I am your quintessential loner and have never envisioned myself even considering being a part of a mom's playgroup, even as a new mom… it's just not me.  That doesn't mean that I don't see the value in having other people in your same boat to share your trials and tribulations of parenting with.  After all, it's the hardest job anyone will ever do.  You really do need support and reinforcements.  Since I don't usually connect organically with most folks I meet, and since I'm also reticent to lots of socializing, finding other parents to pal around with was always recognized as an uphill battle.  What I did not take into consideration in the beginning was how much of a divide different parenting styles could be in a friendship.  Whoa, let me tell you.  It singlehandedly overshadows any of my other obstacles in finding other moms to have as friends.  Let me break down some classics that are easily recognizable.

1)  The "Laid Back" Parent: We all know them.  You agree to go out to dinner with a family for the first time.  Ten minutes into the meal, their kids are running around the restaurant, throwing food,  siblings hitting each other, screaming, being disrespectful to their parents, ect.  The parents are drinking their sweet tea and completely disregarding the fact that everyone is put out with their children and it's not even a blip on their radar.   It's happened to most of us.  I am instantly mortified when I find myself in this sort of company.  If my son decided to lose his mind and act like this in public, he would immediately been removed from said place and taken directly home to be dealt with.  Inappropriate actions have consequences just like good behavior is always praised and recognized in my home.

Some people think I'm too rigid.  But they don't consider the elephant in the room.  When you allow your kids to act in this manner, you are doing them a great disservice.  Why?  Because EVERYONE HATES THEM and it's YOUR FAULT.   This has been weighing on me for a while and it feels damn good to say it.

2)  The "Screamer"Parent:  This species of parent is the loudest and usually the most ineffective.  They can usually be found in their natural habitat, like a Wal Mart or Winn Dixie.   Sometimes though, their skills of disguise will make you befriend one before you realize what you've gotten yourself into.  It's only when you finally hang out with them in their home (or yours) that you see the truth.  Usually it will go like this:  The child(ren) are typically wild, that's already established, but in an attempt to not be too judgmental, you go against your instincts and assume it's a phase.  While attempting to have an adult conversation, you find yourself distracted by inappropriate behavior by one of the kids.  You look at the parent and may see irritation, but no action.  The behavior continues, the parent finally says, "Stop it."  They are ignored, blatantly.  This is when your eyebrow raises slightly.  Then the child just continues to push the envelope and you see the parental explosion when it's three seconds too late to back away safely.  The parent proceeds to scream wildly (now you know where the kids get it from), sometimes they curse at their kids, threaten to beat the shit out of them, possibly smack them on the butt if they can catch the offending child, blah blah blah.

Here's the kicker.  It doesn't matter.  The kid doesn't give a shit.  Why?  Because all of that screaming means nothing and the kid knows it.  They don't actually deliver an effective consequence, follow through consistently or make good on their stupid threats in any way.  They just scream, shake their heads and give up as their child carries on doing whatever they want until the whole process starts over again.  Lather, rinse, repeat.   Fantastic!  Now you not only have a headache from the kids, the parents have made it a migraine and the kid is still an asshole despite the big scene that was just made.   This is when you get an imaginary call that your bird died and you have to haul ass out of there before your own child thinks that this is normal or acceptable in any way.   (Yes, we all lose our tempers and freak out during our careers as parents.  Anyone that says they don't is a liar and I'll tell them so.  I am specifically referring to those that do this chronically.  I can't believe I'm even spelling this out.. it's that obvious.)

Again, parents… a disservice is being done here.  Why?  Because EVERYONE HATES YOUR KIDS and it's YOUR FAULT.  In addition,  you have shown a really ugly side of yourself and now no one wants to be your friend, either.   Congratulations.

3) The 'Isn't She Cute?' Parent:  I won't delve into this type with too much detail.  It's self explanatory.  The child talks back to them (or you) rudely and disrespectfully.  The parent says, "Isn't she SO smart?"
The child tears ass through the Target aisle, knocking everything over and the parent says, "She has so much energy, she's surely going to be a great athlete!!!"
The examples go on and on, but at the end of the day all I have to say is this…. That shit isn't cute.  Disrespectful back talking isn't cute, physically hitting others isn't cute,being ugly to other children isn't cute, acting like a savage in public isn't cute, none of it is cute to anyone but YOU.

4) The 'Stripper in Training' Parent:  This category is specifically for parents of little girls, and it may just be the most disgusting and scary.   If your daughter is ten and comes to school dressed like she's about to leave at two fifteen and go work the late afternoon lunch shift at the Pony, please go kill yourself.  Kids should dress as kids and act like children.  Allowing and encouraging 'boyfriends' in elementary school, giving them cell phones and letting them leave the house with their little kid asses hanging out and a face with make-up on it is vile.   That is all.  People don't hate your kid, they feel sorry for them.  They hate YOU.

Seriously, I could go on and on, but enough people probably already think I'm directing this at them and are mad at me.  To that I say, 'Don't be.'  Everyone knows at least five parents in each category, if you see yourself in one that I described, that's not on me.  That's on you.  Besides, what do I know anyway?  It's just my lowly opinion and I never claimed to be an expert.

Fact is, there are a lot of parents who may look at me and then read this and be surprised at how I view things.  Good, I say.  Don't assume anything by the way I look.  I take parenting very seriously and realize that I border on 'old school' in regards to certain opinions… why is that a bad thing?  Older generations as a whole seemed to do a much better job than many nowadays.  Besides, you could do everything to the best of your ability and right and still end up with a teenager or older child that goes off the deep end and takes a totally messed up path.  I know that all too well.  Why not give them every tool available to ensure that they have the skills necessary to be everything they can in this difficult world we live in?  We all mess up no matter how hard we try to do right by our kids.  It's just the parents that so blatantly do a crap job that upset me so.

Ultimately, it boils down to the fact that it's not so easy in this world to find people who have similar world views, lifestyles and passions.  When you're looking for a support system as a mother, it gets even harder.  Much as many wouldn't like to admit it, how people parent their kids matters a whole lot.  I've met more than a handful of women who I like very much on a personal level, but who I simply cannot get very close to because of their familial dynamic, parenting style, and ultimately and sadly, their kids.   I suppose that makes me the bad guy because I can't set those things aside for a friendship, but anyone that knows me knows I'm totally ok with that.