Less-than-perfect parenting

During a game of house last week, my 2-year-old was acting as the dad and my 5-year-old was the mom. The youngest set out to “chop some firewood” because that is apparently what dads do these days, and her big sister put the babies to bed.

As I walked by, my oldest daughter said, “Look, Mom. I’m the mom but I’m not just staying in bed all day like you do.”

I’m sorry, what? I fought the urge to get in a serious debate about this assertion by bringing up the sleepless nights during teething, tantrums and her terrible twos. The fact is I do sleep in on weekends—and my daughter never fails to point it out.

For two days of the week I’m not up early to pack lunches, stuff backpacks and braid hair. For those two glorious days, I sleep in. My wonderful husband even shuts the bedroom door behind him so I can actually sleep.

Now it’s not like I sleep all day. I’m usually up by 9 a.m., but those two extra hours of sleep are incredible. I honestly look forward to it all week.

I used to feel bad about this weekend indulgence, but I’ve given up the guilt. I work hard at being a mom and freelancer all week. Do I wish I had more stamina to keep rolling right on through to Sunday? Of course. But I don’t – and that’s OK.

I liked the perspective in an article this week in The Atlantic by Noah Berlatsky, a self-proclaimed “lazy” parent who decided his kids will turn out OK and will love him even if they have fast-food dinners every night.

“My son is a little annoyed that his parents are lazy, but he also thinks it’s funny. He’s got a sense of humor, and he’s also pretty forgiving and kind,” he writes. He’s this lovely little human being, and it’s at least as much despite me as because of me — which is why children are a gift not just to the deserving, but to the bumbling and lazy as well.”

No parent is perfect, and it is usually the ones that profess to be that have the deepest, most tragic flaws. But most parents are just like me — doing the best we can while constantly vowing to do better. And if sleeping in on the weekend is my biggest parenting regret, I think I’m doing pretty well.

So, instead of explaining to my daughter that by Saturday morning I am exhausted and feel like one more game of house might just kill me, I just smiled and said, “Yep, I sure love weekend naps!” And then I chose to focus on the fact that when she put those babies to bed, she kissed each one, sang a lullaby and said, “I love you.”

I must be doing something right.

Do you have any parenting flaws that you have come to accept in yourself?

6 comments

  1. John Charity Spring

    Without question, there is an epidemic of lazy parenting sweeping this land. Far too many younger parents selfishly put their own laziness above the needs of their children.

    A child who eats fast food dinners each night absolutely will not turn out alright. The child will learn that gluttony and sloth are not only acceptable, they are desirable. This is in addition to the tragic consequences to physical health.

    The needs of vast hordes of children are being ignored, and for what? The needs are being ignored so that parents can indulge in such frivolous pursuits as video games, Facebook, and sleeping in to unseemly hours.

    Is it any wonder that rates of immorality and substance abuse are at such high levels? Not to anyone who knows that children of selfish parents will imitate the selfishness they observe.

  2. Nana Sid

    I wish we’d played more. More trips to the park and to the pool. More family vacations, more camping. But, my kids turned out great and the two that are married have spouses that know how to play. We did lots of things right. (And the occasional fast food meal did not lead to gluttony or sloth. . . )

  3. Danny Chipman

    Don’t worry too much, Erin. Mary the mother of God once lost her kid for a few days and He turned out all right. Sadly, there will always be people like John Charity Spring waiting on the wayside with a stone in hand. Never mind that such people probably never had to get up for 1, 3, and 5 in the morning for feedings, medicate and comfort sick children in the middle of the night, stay up late helping (or finishing) kids’ homework, or wake up early to help panicking kids find their school things. They probably left those tasks to their emotionally battered and exhausted wives.

    There are extremes in parenting, definitely. Guns-Blazing Black Hawk Helicopter Parents and the “lazy” ones who really are selfish (and personally I think the daily fast food run really is lazy). I think it’s important to strike a healthy, sane balance. I think it’s even more important to be constantly trying to be the best parent we can be, despite the “evils” of “youth” and “inexperience”.

    I’ve been at the (stay-at-) home Mom thing for a few years now, and I’ve developed a “Momstitution”. It lists my obligations I acknowledge I must fulfill to my God, my family, and my community. It also has a Bill of Rights. I’ll share a few:

    I have the right to 7-8 hours of sleep each day. Less than this will cause physical and psychological stress that can be damaging or even dangerous to myself and my family (especially when driving).

    I have the right to exercise. It is important that my family see me do this and learn that it is an important component to being healthy and happy.

    I have the right to stay informed on current events in the world and in my social circles. Whether it’s reading the paper or 5-10 minutes on Facebook or the phone, the medium is unimportant so long as I don’t spend inordinate amounts of time doing it.

    I have the right to continue my education. Money and time may not always facilitate formal classes, but I read books or do research on the internet on subjects I wish to improve in.

    I have the right to shower and use the toilet in solitude, and my kids will not become social deviants if they have to watch PBS for a few minutes during this time.

    I have the right to a couple of reasonable hobbies (time- and cost-wise) that will replenish my spirit and energy. There are LDS general authorities who will back me up on this. An empty well has nothing to give.

    I have the right to a healthy diet (as well as the obligation to provide the same for my family).

    I have the right to exist in a reasonably tidy environment and to expect others in the house (particularly the children) to help to maintain it.

    It’s crucial to set an example in these things for our children, and even our spouses. The ones who don’t, or who wantonly cast judgment on those whose efforts and circumstances they know nothing of, are the truly lazy.

    • Erin Stewart

      I LOVE this! I think it’s nice to remind ourselves every now and again that moms are people too and we have certain unalienable rights:) Thanks for sharing. — Erin

  4. Momof7

    I’m pretty sure 9 a.m. is not an unseemly hour especially since your husband is home.

    I sometimes feel guilty because I really don’t like to play make-believe games with my kids but my husband assures me they will be just fine even if I don’t play games 24/7. I give them attention just in different ways then make-believe games.

    I think some people we hear from that try to make us feel guilty definitely fall into the ‘it is usually the ones that profess to be [perfect] that have the deepest, most tragic flaws.’ category.

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