Friday, January 7, 2011

Part time sons and daughters

So there is an emerging trend (or perhaps it's always been there, but I hadn't noticed) among parents of young children.  It seems to be the norm, lately, to send your kids off to the grandparents' house for the weekends (as in every weekend).  There are variations on this, such as every other weekend, or for a week or so at a time, or to send them to someone else other than a grandparent, but it's still shipping the kids off to be somebody's responsibility other than the parents (and frequently).  The best part is I still hear these parents complain that no one ever helps them!  I have also seen one of our family member's get extremely angry at a grandparent of her child for not taking the girl for a weekend because they actually had plans of their own.  How dare they not be available for her to dump her child off to them so she can enjoy her weekend child-free.  When did this become the way to raise your kids?

I had my children because I wanted to have children.  I never simply expect someone to take them off my hands.  I do not ask someone to babysit my kids unless I really need them to (as in not just so I can lounge around all weekend doing nothing).  I stick to that policy because I don't want to be using everyone so much that when I really need them they are sick of me and my kids.  I also want to raise my own kids.  My parents did not get a night to themselves for 3 years after having me.  I have been lucky enough to have an annual weekend away for my husband's work party.  We started going after my son was a year and a half old.  We also took a 2 night trip to NYC to see The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  So clearly I'm not opposed to having babysitters, or time to ourselves.  I just do not understand the weekly need to send your kids away for overnight trips to Grandma's house.  Our niece even spends most holidays away from home and away from her parents.  Why wouldn't you want your children to be with you for the holiday?

Today I received an email from my mother in law inviting us to my niece's birthday.  Even that can't be done by her parents.  Between these close to home examples, and the women I sometimes see online talking about how they just HAD to send their child away week after week after week, I have started to wonder if this is the new modern way of parenting.  Maybe I'm old fashioned.  Maybe I'm the one with the problem.

The icing on the cake for me is when I hear these ladies complain about how they get no help.  My husband travels for a week or so at a time.  Until 8 months ago, I lived over an hour away from my family (the most helpful and reliable relatives we have). There have been many times I had no help, and there was something hard to deal with alone going on.  For example, two weeks after I gave birth to our second son and was recovering from the extensive repair I had to have due to a precipitous and rather violent delivery while caring for a newborn and very active (who doesn't take naps) 3 year old, my husband had to travel for 2 weeks away from home.  The baby was also not doing well, as he had an undiagnosed dairy sensitivity which caused him much discomfort.  One night I called my husband at 4:45AM, sobbing.  It took me several minutes to calm down enough to even say hi.  The baby had been up all night, screaming except when I was feeding him, and I knew I had to be up with my first son in a few hours.  That is what "no help" is.  I always wonder who these women are married to.  It took me a week without my husband, very little sleep, and then a night of no sleep, while still in pain with stitches pulling and hurting every time I tried to sit or stand so no position was comfy, to breakdown.  After my breakdown I sucked it up, and got back to my work as a mother.  I did have help a few nights both weeks from my family, and my mother in law came to visit and helped.  But most of the time it was just me, and it was only me until after work on the days when folks could come to help.  (And thank goodness for those ladies *you know who you are*, and our neighbor provided two meals for which I was very thankful!)   

So who are these ladies who cry "no help", when everyone is bending over backwards to help them, married to?  If I was that kind of person, my husband could not even be married to me.  He'd never be able to hold his current job, and he'd lose his mind if I acted so helpless and unappreciative of the abundance of help everyone gave me.  Did these women not understand the work involved in having children?  Maybe they should've set themselves up as volunteers at a preschool or respite program for families with disabled children if they just wanted to visit with kids, but not have the full time responsibility 24/7 most weeks of the year. 

Hats off to the mothers (and most of my friends do fall into this category) who raise their own kids!  Those of us who include our kids in our weekend plans, and celebrate the holidays with our children.  Hooray for the moms who plan their own kids' birthday parties, and don't turn down birthday party invites because we just don't feel like taking our kids to play with their friends.

Thank you to my mother and my sister, whom help me when I ask them to.  I would never claim to never have any help, because I know that would be disrespectful to those who do, in fact, help me.  I also wouldn't abuse those in my life, and expect them to drop everything to help me.  I also try very hard to take care of nearly everything myself.  There is a sense of accomplishment when you overcome your obstacles with your own hard work, creativity, and strength.  I want my kids to know I wanted them, and want them around.  One day they will leave, and I will never be able to go back and get time I lost out on with them.  I can't help but wonder if this new type of part time parent will regret the time they've lost once their little kiddos have flown the coop.

Okay, so this was a rant.  Next up on my "rant list" (for those days I just gotta let it out): The lost art of the "Thank You" note!  Send them, people!!

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