Mom Enough

I’ve been kind of ignoring the Time magazine thing. OK, not really, but kind of. I think the picture is doing what it is intended to do – shock, generate controversy, sell magazines. The wording on the cover is ridiculous – are you Mom enough? How AP Drives women to extremes? What?

But, seriously, whatever, Time. I’m over it. I don’t really give a flying rat’s hiney what Time, my neighbor, or the country thinks about parenting decisions that we make for our family. When you are parenting my children, then you may voice your opinion on how they are parented.

Besides just the Time article (which I haven’t read), there have been a TON of blog posts about the issue. (mostly expressing shock and horror and scolding Time, but SERIOUSLY, people, the best way to scold Time would have been to not mention it at all, thus depriving them of the publicity and increased sales they were obviously going for.)

Then my husband sent me this article. It starts off good. Avoid resentment. If you’re doing what works for you, then let the opinions of others be damned! Yes! I’m on board! Then it takes a bizarre turn.

Here’s a handy rule for avoiding resentment: If you hate doing something, you absolutely must not do it.

This means that if you despise, in your heart of hearts, cooking or singing lullabies or breastfeeding or playing Frisbee, you are forbidden to even think of doing those things. As much as your children or your spouse or your weekly news magazine harangue you, stand your ground. If you hate it, skip it.

If you loathe watching Pixar movies or sitting criss-cross-applesauce or driving to field hockey practice or making homemade Halloween costumes or drilling SAT vocabulary or reading “Barnyard Dance” aloud—you must avoid these things. Dream up a workaround. Get your mom, dad, neighbor, wet nurse, spouse or babysitter to do them. Outsourcing is a choice you can feel good about.

What? So if you hate something, just don’t do it?

As I posted on Facebook, I recall a Dr Laura phone call from a dad calling about his 2 year old son, who wanted to do nothing besides play at the train table with his daddy. He didn’t want to play catch (which is what his dad wanted), he didn’t want to play puzzles. He wanted to play trains. His daddy hated trains. He didn’t want to play trains. And Dr. Laura reamed him new one. And she was RIGHT. For the love of all things holy, that child was TWO. Two, and he wanted to play trains with his daddy.

I don’t give a crap if you hate trains. Your child will be two for exactly 365 days. He’ll want to play trains with you for probably fewer than 2 years total out of his life, and even if you played trains for 2 hours every single day for 2 years, that’s only 730 hours out of your life. That’s about 30 days. 30 days out of that dad’s probably 35 years of life. He can’t spare that much time to do something he doesn’t like – and with a smile on his face and a happy demeanor – because it makes his son, who he loves, so happy? How freaking selfish can you get?

If you resent doing things you don’t like to make your children happy, then don’t have them.

Parenting is not about YOU. Once you have kids, it stops being all about YOU. If you want life to be all about you, then don’t have kids. (or adult relationships, because guess what? Getting along in ANY relationship involves some level of doing things you hate because they make someone else happy.)

Better advice might be “if it works, stick with it. If it’s not working, make a change.” But resentment is a choice – you can choose to resent that your children – particularly babies – have needs, or you can choose to accept that children have needs and that it’s YOUR job to meet those needs.

But, you know, I see in this article the very dichotomy that exists between AP and not AP. At the heart of AP, and at the heart of any Christian relationship, is the notion of having a servant’s heart. AP is, at its root, having a servant’s heart towards your children.

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