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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014

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Just a teensy glass of wine.
Just a teensy glass of wine.

Five reasons why you should judge me as a parent

A friend posted this blog from Babble.com on her Facebook page yesterday. It's one mother's confessions about things she's done "wrong" and an open invitation for everyone, from friends to strangers, to judge her.

I love it. And it's true: parents do judge other parents. For better or for worse, judgment is how we make ourselves feel better and it also helps us figure out our own boundaries.

But despite judgment, which is unavoidable, we need to admit our foibles, our flaws and move forward. There is no other way, except guilt and denial, which are both 50 shades of yucky.

Moms (all parents, really) need more honest talk about our kid-rearing realities. And then I remembered, duh, I have a blog and I, too, could contribute more to the blow-up pool of mommy imperfections.

In fact, another Facebook meme sums up the parent-to-child relationship best: "I plan to give you love, nurturing and just enough dysfunction to make you funny."

So here ya go: five things I have done that will hopefully make my kids funny someday and will allow you to feel better about your parenting pitfalls. Grab a drink that's way healthier than the whiskey tonic I'm currently slurping down and judge away.

1. Often, I hit the snooze button too many times in the morning, and by the time I drag my butt out of bed it's too late to shower my kid after a night of sitting around a camp fire or bedwetting or swimming in an over-chlorinated pool. So I sniff him, powder him, dress him and send him slightly stinky on his merry way. This just happened last week, and might I add we were running so late, we didn't have time for breakfast, so he ate a cookie on the way to summer school. Hey, it was an oatmeal cookie.

2. I lied to my kid about death. I know it's healthiest to talk frankly with kids about all subjects, but I didn't. Unfortunately, my kids have had to deal with the death of loved ones at a young age, which has caused them to ask the question if I was going to die. I could have gotten a good kids' book on death or said something vague like "everything has a season, even Mommy" but instead I told them, twice now, "I am not going to die until you are a grown man and have your own family and won't need a mom to take care of you anymore." They probably have a year, at best, to continue believing this, but for now, this pat response makes them smile and wander off back into their little worlds built of LEGO and juice bags.

3. Speaking of juice bags, I also let my kid drink wine. I know a lot of parents talk supportively about the no-big-deal-ness of alcohol in other cultures, and how making a big deal about alcohol makes it a mystery that might cause over consumption, but quite frankly, I'm the only parent I know who actually gave their kid vino when he asked for it. Sure, it was a teensy glass of wine, but the thing is, he liked it and has asked repeatedly for glasses of wine ever since. I have said no, but I'm considering letting him have another splash around the holidays.

4. I like joint custody. I grew up with parents who "stayed together for the kids" but I opted not to do this. Consequently, my kids live in two houses. They have two bedrooms. They have two lives. Do I miss them when they are with their dad? Oh yes, sometimes I do. Occasionally, I'll even spiral into a depressing thought pattern of "they grow so quickly and you're missing half of it." But really, most of the time, I find co-parenting to be a gift from the Great Pumpkin, right up there with rainbows and bad television when you're hungover. Truth be told, I love having time to myself and to spend with someone who inspires me, and that when I see my kids, I give them my best, undivided self because I had time to refuel and reflect.

5. I overruled my own "no video games" rule. We do not have a Wii or any of the other newfangled video game systems, but my kids have cheap laptops and I let them play games, sometimes for long stretches of time, like Wizard 101 and Poptropica. For years, I vowed they would never play video games on my watch, but I gave in because I see some value in these non-violent games and, quite frankly, sometimes it's just such a relief to plug them into something.

So there you have it. Five of my many parenting flaws. The fact is, perfect parenting doesn't exist and when I finally, years ago, let myself off the hook and accepted that – although I might not make the same mistakes my parents made – I realized I'm still going to make mistakes. And lots of 'em.

Here's to raising funny kids.

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