Parenting is a constant battle. It’s a battle for your kids’ life. You want them to grow up and be respectable citizens who bathe and keep jobs. That’s why we potty train them. When you get a call from the school that your kid is biting kids, you fight for THEIR life by grounding them and trying to figure out what the fuck they are doing and why. Their productive adult life counts on this proactive ness of you. It never ends. You want them to have nice things. Even if they live three thousand miles away and call you about getting fired. You fight for their life and say things to them to encourage them and help them and better them and then you lose sleep and wonder where you failed. It’s a constant battle.
You show them how to wash their hair and say thank you because no one likes to sit next to a stinky, rude asshole on the bus. Most of the time during the early training years, they are ungrateful, selfish little bastards but their future lives are at stake. Making them clean their room, making them sit down and shut up, making them ditch the flip flops and wear boots when wintertime rolls around is helping them in their future, adult job finding skills for instance. Taking their laptops away, making them wear clean clothes, shutting off cell phones, driving them to school like a bitch before coffee, all helps in this future fight we are in even though they hate you for it and have no idea what they are in for.
Getting fired yourself from jobs because you are in this battle while you miss work to have a teacher conference, or to better a kid who hates you for making him practice piano or play soccer, taking any jobs you can so you can buy food and be there to yell at them when they suck at life, this is our compromise. We as parents don’t have nice things so that THEY CAN someday. Yes it would be easier to shut down and not care, you might get more sleep and finish a goddamn Netflix series for once or have nice things, but you have put a rude, sloppy, uncaring asshole out in to the world to someday be someone’s boss, or drug dealer, you decide.
Its a thankless, messy, ugly, battle. There are no fancy dresses to wear to awards ceremonies and no one gets a statue for the mantel. Every once in a while though some light shines down. Your kid gets to be the tree in the school play and you see them beaming up there onstage and you see them be proud and it makes you want to give them more of that. Every once in a while they make a shitty drawing and write the word ‘Mommy’ at the bottom and you cry over this. Every once in a while you can see the human being that you know is in there and you want more of that person FOR that person. Kids don’t want to grocery shop at Walmart at midnight or hang out at a bar because you are still trying prove you are cool even after you’ve had kids. These are our battle compromises. We stay home so we can ruin their present lives for their future lives. Its what we do.
We stay home a lot not because we are not cool but to create ‘family’ and show them how people eat and make beds and play games and laugh in their own little clan because someday they will have to join a clan of their own. Then in what seems like one moment that happens inside the millions of moments of kid life, they are suddenly grown and have beards and drive and they move out and you still have baby pictures of them on the wall. Will they use a napkin at mealtime? Will they get arrested? Drink too much? Keep a job? Make friends? Hopefully all of these good things happen and you yelled at them and loved them enough for them to be able to think on their own and follow their dreams so they can try to have nice things of their own too.
It never ends. You signed up when you pushed that thing out of you,and you sign up every single god damned day after that even when you are both old. Its valor. Truly and deeply.