I realized something totally unfair today. When I was growing up, children were supposed to be “seen and not heard.” We did what we were told. We went where our parents decided to go. We ate whatever our mom’s made for dinner. And if we didn’t like it, we were “given something to really cry about.”
Now I’m not complaining about the past. That’s about as effective as asking the government to make slavery reparations 150 years after the fact. It’s not necessarily undeserved, but really, what’s the point?
We are on vacation in beautiful Laguna Beach, CA. My seven year-old son, Eli, around whose moods our family seems to constantly revolve, was holding us hostage and I figured out why I am so quick to explode over his maniacal tantrums and so easily irked by his capricious behavior. Because it’s not fair.
You see, I never enjoyed the position of center of the universe with my family of origin. I was a “good” girl who sat and colored when I had to go to appointments with my mother. I cleaned the shelves at my dad’s pharmacy on Saturdays when he was saddled with taking me to work with him because finding a sitter for the whole day would’ve been an outrageous expense. I fit into my parents’ lives like kids were supposed to do.
Cut to: a generation later and the whole model has been turned upside down. Nowadays it’s the parents who give up their lives for their children. The idea of a vacation that isn’t entirely kid-centered is tantamount to child abuse in most of the parent circles I inhabit.
When we were on vacation as kids, if my mom wanted to shop or spa or get her hair done, that’s what we did and we found ways to make that fun. If I even poke my head into a boutique or art gallery these days, my kids go into hissy-fit mode and start whining obnoxiously and carelessly flinging themselves around the store. It’s really not right.
Everyone deserves to be the center of the universe at some point in her life. But it’s like a genetic trait that gets passed on by skipping a generation. Our entire generation of parents got gipped on this one. Back in the day, parents ran the show. But the minute I step into the role of maternal monarch, the rug gets pulled out from under me and instead of reigning gleefully, I’m suddenly the supplicant of a couple of erratic juvenile dictators.
Where did we go wrong? And why isn’t everyone else griping about this injustice? We were slighted out of the attention we deserve and I’m not taking it lightly! No!
I want to matter!
I don’t want everything I do (or don’t do) to be centered around my children!
I want to stop pretending that I don’t have adult needs and that I wouldn’t be happier going out to dinner with my husband alone than playing one more game of “Apples to Apples” with the kids.
Come on. Parents of the world, unite! Stop cow-towing to anyone who measures 4 feet 5 and below.(and Levi, you may be taller than that, but you still count as a “kidtater.”) It’s about us from now on. Because, trust me on this one, if we don’t put some focus back on ourselves, we’re gonna end up with a bunch of self-absorbed narcissists who aren’t gonna be able to take care of themselves, the country, or the planet. And that would suck.