WE’RE PARENTS
(TransParenting • Part 2)

“Freak out and throw stuff,

World’s Greatest Dad!”

– Phish, Fuego

This is not a parenting class.

And I’m certainly no parenting guru.

Nor do I think you’d be in better hands if I were. Because the last thing you need is some pretentious hack pointing out how and why you’re doing it all wrong. Nosey neighbors and know-it-all sisters-in-law will gladly provide this unsolicited service. And I encourage you to flip them a hearty bird when they do. Because those who can, parent. And those who can’t, teach other parents how to parent.

So now that I’ve told you what this series isn’t, let me tell you what it is.

It’s permission.

Permission to be good enough, even when good enough isn’t nearly enough. Because we all make mistakes. Lots of mistakes. And if we expect to bat a thousand, we’re bound to feel like zeros. We screw up, and we keep screwing up, and we do our best no matter how insufficient our best will ever be.

Because that’s what we do: we screw up.

Because that’s who we are: we’re parents.

It’s permission to vent.

Because for some strange reason we’re convinced that if we complain, we’re either jinxing our little blessings or being insensitive to those who lack them. But having children does not magically transform us into zen masters or geisha girls. Quite the contrary, in fact. Our lives are no longer ours, and we need to let some steam out of the pressure cooker. If others resent us or don’t understand us, it’s because they resent us or don’t understand us. That’s not our problem. Go ahead. Freak out. Throw stuff. Drop F-bombs in the shower. Get messy.

Because that’s what we do: we get messy.

Because that’s who we are: we’re parents.

It’s permission to feel bipolar.

To silently curse as we lug them from homework-time to bath-time to bedtime to I said it’s bedtime to I SAID IT’S BEDTIME GODDAMNIT. And then silently curse ourselves for silently cursing them as soon as they fall asleep and our hearts go from rage to remorse in a matter of milliseconds and we can’t even fathom the monsters we were just ten minutes prior. And we feel bipolar. And we have full permission to feel this way.

Because that’s what we do: we swing.

Because that’s who we are: we’re parents.

It’s permission to feel like a hypocrite.

To ban candy after dinner while our bedsheets collect Skittles wrappers. To enforce prayers and blessings to a God we chronically disregard. To bemoan their iPhone addictions while we indulge in the deepening swamps of our own.

Because that’s what we do: we fall short.

Because that’s who we are: we’re parents.

It’s permission to hide.

To miss those adorable little mush balls from afar, and then feel smothered and suffocated from up close. So we point up to a birdie in the sky, and then dash into our getaway vehicles, crouching in a bathroom or the inside of a steel safe, only to resume adoring those same mush-balls on the feeds of our screens from the safety of our toilets.

Because that’s what we do: we hide.

Because that’s who we are: we’re parents.

It’s permission to – yes I’ll say it – hate. And we hate ourselves for hating them, while we simultaneously love them. Because sometimes they will test our love. And we’re allowed to fail these tests. And we proceed to love them anyway. Even when they press our hate buttons. And boy do they know how to press those buttons.

Because that’s what we do: we fume.

Because that’s who we are: we’re parents.

It’s permission to cry.

As our hearts melt for their little souls. We watch them sleep. Innocent. Sheltered. Fragile. Still unbroken by the world and its winds. Or maybe those winds are beginning to strike. And tiny cracks are beginning to surface. The early onset of a lifelong battle with anorexia, or the unintended discovery of a loose joint in a tight pocket, or the social anxiety we swore he’d grow out of, but only grew into. And we promised she was beautiful no matter her waist size, that the right boy would love her for who she is, and she’s beginning to discover the emptiness of our words. And she feels invisible and unlovable because her friends are finding love while she curses her own DNA for making her this way, and we watch with broken hearts as our beloved child feels so helpless and forsaken. And that little boy too soft to be cool, too sweet to even realize how uncool he is, but his friends are beginning to realize it and soon they will break the news to him ever so unsubtly, and we’ll tell him there are more important things than being cool and he’s too precious to know that at his age it’s just not true. And we’ll want to take their bullets and relieve their miseries but to no avail, which deepens the misery, and yet we’ll deepen it anyway.

Because that’s what we do: we cry.

Because that’s who we are: we’re parents.

If this was a parenting class, you’d be stripped of these permits. To screw up. To vent. To mood swing. To fall short. To fume. To hide. To run. To cry. To feel like an absolute mess inside.

But, as I said, this is not a parenting class.

This is a brutally honest glimpse into the real life of a real parent.

Because that’s what we do: we get messy.

Because that’s who we are: we’re parents.