I’m Optimistic The Sucking Will Be Less So Later in Life

Remember how I mentioned I was trying to be more optimistic here? All well and good, sure, but I’m starting to remember what sucked a lot of that optimism away. Parenting. Now let me immediately differentiate between short term optimism and big picture optimism. My big picture optimism is still fully in tact in all of it’s delusional grandeur. I really do believe everything will be all right. It will all work out. Etc. Etc. But man, it’s that short-term immediate optimism that gets an ass whopping on a regular basis.

Another point of clarification is to note how I mentioned the problem is parenting not my kids. My kids themselves are really quite awesome. They are healthy, intelligent, and ripe with potential for future wealth and fame. But getting them to that point without me locking them in the basement takes some work.

I go through spurts where I read a lot of parenting blogs. I like to read the “Official Parenting Blogs” that chatter on about some sort of theory like attachment parenting or free range parenting just to see what’s going on out there, but generally find parenting theories to be baloney. What I enjoy most though are the blogs of parents writing about their kids and how they handle certain situations. These are helpful to realize that we’re not alone and that all of the stupid stuff my kids are doing has been done by kids for eons and will never change. But one thing I notice a distinct lack of is talk about how much parenting can suck.

There is so much fear these days of being seen as a bad parent for either ego reasons or, more realistic, legal reasons. People seem to be more and more comfortable telling other people how to parent their kids that a lot of parents are afraid to speak up about how miserable it can be some times. Of particular note, nobody seems to discuss how much of a strain parenting can have on a marriage. I’ve always found the idea of having a child to strengthen or save a marriage to be hysterical. Unless you have a strong marriage going in, it’s chances of survival are greatly diminished. My wife and I have a very strong marriage I believe, but I find it tested almost daily by the kids and our reactions to what they do.

The kids themselves are not being bad, per say, they are doing what normal kids do: testing boundaries, exploring new skills, and generally living life in the moment with no regard of their place in the larger world. The bad situations come from this happening and mommy and daddy not handling it properly because we’re ignorant, or tired, or bored, irritable, or lazy, or sick. It’s really amazing how synced the kids are to our emotions and they know when we are at our weakest and exploit that to their greatest advantage.

Things have been feeling out of sync with Becky and I the last week or so and I know it’s because we’ve been having a particularly rough time with the kids. It’s so easy to fall into a pattern of denial or justification instead of addressing the root cause of the situation. We’re already experiencing some bad habits from the kids that are the direct result of our own inaction in the early stages. Hopefully we’ll be able to get away for a night to ourselves this weekend, but if not we’ll find some other way to reengage with each other because that’s what you do in a good marriage. A good marriage isn’t one without differences or arguments, it’s one with adults who know how to handle differences and arguments. Luckily Becky is an adult and drags me along because we only have a few more years of being bigger and stronger than the kids. They’re already smarter than we are.