I think I was an asshole parent

IMG_1869The grandbabies came for Camp Granny yesterday, which meant a sleep-over and a whole day to knock around.

I am a Serious Person Who Thinks Serious Thoughts, but not with these nearly-five-year-old twins. I take off my shoes. I pretend to be an alligator. I don’t sweat it when they make pillow forts or destroy a room.

What the hell happened to me?

With my own children, there was no destroying a room. There wasn’t even messing one up, at least not any of the rooms I spent time in. (Their bedrooms were another story, but we called the living room the “Mustn’t Touch It Room.” That should give you an idea of how warm and welcoming was my home.)

I remember once telling the boys to police an area (clean up) and one of their friends asked if I’d been in the military. (My oldest son helpfully explained that I hadn’t, but my father had.)

I don’t remember sitting on the floor with my children. I was on a mission from God to by-God deliver these young men to a fruitful adulthood. It wouldn’t have dawned on me to loosen up, even a little.

Not so with these kids. I give direction as needed, but mostly, we cuddle and giggle and read books and hang out.

When I broach this subject with one son, he waves me away or reassures me that I was a good mom. Maybe, but then, maybe that’s why so many people love being a grandparent. You don’t precisely get a chance to do it all over again (that ship has sailed) and there’s no redeeming the past, but you’ve loosened up a little. The burden of by-God delivering these young people to a fruitful adulthood is on the parents. You’re just there to provide the sparkle. Sparkle, I can do, and no one is more surprised than I.



19 responses to “I think I was an asshole parent

  1. I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself. It’s a tough gig parenting.
    Besides..with parenting? There are worse things than being an asshole.

    • Well, I tried, I guess. I wonder if older parents are calmer, in general, than those of us who are hell-bent to live life RIGHT NOW.

      • From what I can see of the results, you managed to pull it off quite nicely.
        Hindsight can be a good thing. Just don’t let it blind you to the bigger picture.
        We all have regrets. Things we would have done differently in the past. Now that we have the benefit of experience we didn’t have at the time value judgements like that come easily.
        Part of getting old.

        • I reckon. I’ve decided to not examine too closely my relationships with significant others in the past. That’s a dark kettle that doesn’t need stirred.

  2. This is funny. When I was a child I really liked my stepmom’s parents, but she would constantly remind us that they weren’t always so nice, and would tell us stories of how she would get stabbed with a fork for not eating correctly when she was as child.

    • That? I did not do. Maybe we all calm down as we get older. I certainly needed to, I guess…”Police the area.” Yeesh.

      • I grew up with that phrase as well, my dad being former Air Force and all. I thought that the word was PLEECE, however, as in “you need to pleece up your room”. I don’t know how the word “up” got in there… But I’ve definitely heard myself use it with my kids, thinking it was a thing.

        • Oh, phew. I thought it was just me. And actually? Pleece up your room sounds much nicer, like fluffy.

  3. Susan we have to be responsible as parents we are safe refuges as any other relative. I can be carefree and easy going with my nephews but I had a different responsibility with my child. I didn’t think I was really disciplined with my girl, but knew the nieces and nephews had a lot more fun with me. It was pointed out to me when my daughter told her buddies “think of a present , just because it is wrapped in cool paper doesn’t mean it is a snazzy present ” That relaxed a few standards at the household let me tell ya . . .

  4. How lovely a description of grandparenting, “Providing the sparkle.”

  5. Well, your children trust you with their children. How big an asshole parent could you have been?

  6. Parenting is like a marathon. You have to conserve energy or you’ll get worn out and won’t make it to the end. Grandparenting is done as periodic short sprints. You can give it your all because soon enough, the kiddos will be home and you’ll have time for other things. Grandparents have the time and patience to be in the moment with their grandkids, because they don’t have them every day and all of the time. Parents are often too busy multi-tasking to be able to do that all the time. I think you should believe your son when he says you were a good mom. Don’t be hard on yourself. Now? You are a good mom AND a good granny!

  7. As I saw it my job as a parent was to be better for my kids than my parents were for me. Simple but at the same time difficult.

    Also I figured we had 17 years to prepare them to be rational, unafraid and fully functional and
    reasonably rational adults. Yes it was hard, but it was doable and worth it.

  8. Susan, in all the years with Sam in my life, which is almost 26 (ish) years now, I can’t remember him ever complaining about you as a parent. Don’t sweat the small stuff! You raised an amazing man, one I am grateful every day to say is my brother.

    • Well, this made my day, and not just because you said nice things about me. Darlene, we miss you up here in the Godless Northeast, and hope you and your family can make the trek. And thank you.

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