This is How I Roll: Some Parents Need to Grow Up

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Look, I’m not going to sugar coat this: I’m grossed out by people who think it’s funny to have kids and then bitch about them, or habitually talk about needing booze, or a line, or a joint or a valium or whatever to get through the day.

It’s all over the Internet. Apparently it’s what sells. “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”- Henry Mencken. I prefer to not engage with the “foolish consistencies [which] are the hobgoblins of little minds.” -Emerson. I guess I will never hit it big. That’s OK, drunk people can’t read very well.

What those people need is a few moments alone and several deep breaths. That’s all. Oh, and likely therapy, which they are probably avoiding.

Ask anyone who knows me or who has interacted with me, and they will tell you, I’ve got a sense of humor, I am resilient, I can roll with punches. But just not this one. Not about parents who get their drink/joint/whatever on to cope with their holes, fears, inadequacy issues, mommy issues, daddy issues, shitty childhoods or whatever that are being activated by triggers that parenthood presents. I’m not talking anxiety, we all have that. I’m talking deep, real, soul-wrenching stuff. Oh, and regarding those who habitually make jokes about it? Grow up.

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So, here’s the deal: I grew up with crap like that happening to me. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “You drive me to drink” as a kid. It’s sick as hell. Those days, and my decisions to talk about them are prickly. It’s partly my story to tell, in terms of how it affected me, but I can tell you this: if you need a drink, or think it’s funny to crack wise about being a mom or a dad who needs *needs* NEEDS something to “get through your day” I have a proposal for you: get fixed.

No, not with a shrink, that’s later, but tie your tubes, clip the lines, get your act together before you victimize your kids with your so-called, “I was just kidding” banter and jokes and Facebook groups and blog titles, and all that stuff. Because what you do to your kids, in the end, when they’re like me: 45 and wondering where the hell you were all their life, it’s not gonna be so funny then. You will be “Granny needs a drink” then. And that’s even sicker.

This is real. Kids are not saints, they are micro versions of me and you, and they have memories, and they have feelings and they have access to the Internet. If you find yourself turned off by their behavior, I have a suggestion: look around and look in the mirror. They learn from us, peers, teachers, siblings, but mostly from us, their parents, who appear godlike in their eyes. They believe everything we say, they don’t understand sarcasm until they’re about 15, despite our insistence that they get it beforehand. We are their go-to resource, unless we are half in the bag, spending the night at the office, on a little yellow pill, or pulling a toke.

But I’m just joking. Right? Because we all are. We’re all just trying to loosen up, have a little fun, don’t be such a stiff, Mol…

This isn’t our second shot at being in the cool group in high school or being popular with the pretty people. If you (like just about everyone) have some weird torch you’re holding for the glory days of your youth and you’re pinning your hopes on your kid to Make It this time… Wake up and smell the music. It’s pathetic. Get your act together and behave.

Maybe if you’re lucky, when you’re old and decrepit they will just feel sorry for you. Maybe if when they’re in a state where you will need them, when they have to take care of you, they will do the right, honorable and human thing: respect you and help you age and eventually die well. Or maybe they’ll get drunk and make jokes about it. You know, because it’s all in good fun, right?, crapping on the concept of being there for people who need our help. Or maybe they won’t resent the hell out of you for putting yourself first all. the. time. Or maybe they will do their best, numbly go through the motions, but be unable to give back what wasn’t given to them.

As a parent, I’m all for cutting loose and having fun, but not as a brand, not as an identity, and certainly not as a thematic function for who I am. Life’s hard enough sober and single. Marriage adds a whole new dimension. And then kids?! Innocent people who are legitimately needy and completely dependent on us for everything until they aren’t anymore?! Holy cow… I can’t imagine life drunk and with kids. And I certainly can’t imagine it being clever or glib or witty to make jokes about needing a mind-numbing substance to get through the day.

I can’t stand that stuff, it makes my blood boil. I have moments, trust me, of when I wish I could run away, or of when I wish I could be more resilient, more aloof, but no… This is life. When you get it on and make a baby, it’s not only all about you anymore. It’s about doing your best, everyday showing up mentally and physically and doing two very simple things on paper, but hard as hell to practice at times: love them with all your might and protect them. Love and protect. That’s all.

Therapy is cheap compared to how our glibness affects our children.

I’m dealing with my own set of challenges: I’m the PB&J in my family sandwich. My parents are getting reeeeally old and my kids are almost all teenagers. I will need every ounce of presence and sanity to navigate these waters. I could do the easy thing, do what my parents did: get drunk and avoid my responsibilities, but that’s not who I am.

If I’ve pissed you off, it’s okay. We aren’t right for each other. Just being real.

Thank you.

24 responses »

  1. You’re pretty awesome, Mol. I hadn’t thought much about this reality until I read this and looked at a lot of the people I follow, and their names, and their “brand.” I have been guilty of joking about it a time or two. I promise you I won’t again because I admire you, and I like you, and I will remember what that did to you then and now. And I love will love and protect my kids with every ounce of my being.

    • Oh Mary! You’re so nice!

      I am guilty of joking about it too, but I was recently followed by a blogger i guess who goes by the moniker “Mommy Needs __dka” and I don’t mean to judge on appearances alone, but I will. Maybe she’s brilliant and insightful and clever and hugely successful…. maybe not. My kids can read now and they see things come in from Twitter or whatever when they play on my iPad and I need to be careful about these things. I don’t want them to think I think that’s OK when I am diligent about alcohol awareness and my family’s history.

      I am by no means chaste and pure, I talk like a sailor at times, but my heart is true. My parents were a mess, so I have to do what I can to do what I can. I don’t buy OK! or The Enquirer anymore as much as I would love to roll around in other peoples’ woes because it feeds (for me) gossip and schadenfreude and I would really love for movie stars to have their privacy. But the whole industry is a mess and they are products now and I digress.

      The loving and protecting is hard sometimes; to them it doesn’t feel like it. I’m going through that with T2 right now. I wrote one time about “compassion” – (am I repeating myself with you? you poor thing…) and how to me, compassion also means making unpopular choices. We have to care enough about ourselves first to be able to extract ourselves from things that cause us pain and anxiety or ego issues. I have been asked to join an organization here, to support one of my sons’ efforts, and as much as I want to support him as much as I can, I know that if I join that organization, from an officer standpoint, I will not be a good fit for the organization; I will be a parent first, not a drum banger for the organization and its coffers. So… it’s like this: I have these fantastic skills: outreach, writing, humor, I’m a connector, I put people at ease, but I also speak my mind and protect those who can’t protect themselves… so as I’ve said many times to people who ask me, “everyone loves me until i disagree with them.” I hold nothing back. I’ve got my own baggage and that sometimes works itself into the processing but it’s seldom without a trigger. I am learning to trust my gut. That’s haaaaaard.

    • hey sus — have a good time but don’t be a dick, is always my standpoint.

      re: “on the want side of need”? freudian slip there or am i misunderstanding. don’t you mean “on the have side of need”? as in “you already have what you think you need”? or are you saying… no. wants and needs are totally different. a want is optional; a need is imperative. i want a leather trench, but i need a jacket.

  2. I struggle with those who see their kids as burdens. My kids are challenging, for sure, but they aren’t here of their own volition. It’s my job to raise them, to nurture them, to care for their souls, and to try and avoid screwing them up too much. I totally agree with the point that if you need a drink to get through the day, there are bigger problems than anything parenting could throw at you.

  3. My parents never regarded their children as a burden and never talked to us that way or blamed us 3 girls for anything. Paul and I never talked to our children in a negative way, either. I never have understood why people talked that way, and generally ignored those comments. Or, I took negative sayings as their type of humor. Thank you, Molly, for setting me straight on the humor side. I am sad that you grew up with negative comments directed toward you. Wow, your strength of character carried you through and now you are strong enough to speak out to others. Brava.

    • you and paul were raised by conscious people, patti. how blessed you were and are. your kids and your relationships with them are testament to that unconditional and pure parental support and loving detachment.

      i do think some people have a sense of humor about it, i say it sometimes that “i need a cigarette” as a joke, but it’s truly seldom and often recanted, so i don’t say it anymore at all come to think of it. the problem with using it as humor (to me) is that it’s masking a deeper deficit somewhere. there are bloggers everywhere with alcohol in their titles or their twitter handles and i would really have never known about it had i not joined the fan page community and then twitter where everyone thinks they’re at a cocktail party (which is fine) but also that no one is watching them… it’s really odd.

      patti… my childhood was a crushing one. i wasn’t raped or burned or left in a basement chained to a post, but it was truly difficult and often sad. there were wonderful times as well, but they were often eclipsed by the all-too frequent bouts of anger and sadness. maybe i’ll write a book about it some day… 😉 xo

  4. You tell them Molly! 🙂 My parents were only “negative” toward us when we did something that was legit wrong. And it was in order to make us better human beings. They spent a lot of time explaining that alcohol was okay for adults in small doses, and the difference between alcoholism and having a few drinks. (They owned a bar, though, so for us, those explanations were necessary as alcohol put food on our table and clothes on our backs.)

    • Thanks, Chrissy! One of the things I try to remind my kids is that I don’t have rules to come down on them as an overlord and god, but to protect them and to help them make better choices. I can’t control them much so I try to educate them as much as I can rather than simply make their choices for them. It’s hard. You will make a great parent! As for the booze talks, AMEN! Your parents were right on the ball and we try to chat with our boys about it as well. We make jokes about it too, but the bottom line is this: I don’t want them to think I think that I’m cool with people having alcohol-related monikers on their handles or blogs when I am diligent about alcohol awareness and my family’s history. They can read now and are very aware of the world around them. Every day I screw something up, but this is one thing I have a bead on. Alcoholism … sigh … is a cancer. xo (I hope you are well…. thinking of you & Brian & his fam.)

  5. I was just talking about this yesterday after visiting yet another blogger with a store selling glasses and water bottles with slogans about drinking alcohol…it may or may not be water. So many people are doing this. Aside from the message it sends…it is so overdone! I want to yell, “Do something original!” I talked a little about it in one of the groups I am in. I can’t figure out why this is such a popular branding idea, but as someone else said this is what sells. People seem to love it. I don’t get it, but then I don’t seem to get a lot of things these days. Now I just sound like an old cranky pants…oh well!

    • “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”- Henry Mencken. I guess I will stay poor. I prefer to not engage with the “foolish consistencies [which] are the hobgoblins of little minds.” -Emerson. Move over on that cranky bench. I need somewhere to sit and throw my bread crumbs at the pigeons.

  6. Thank you! I remember some new pagey bloggy person pasted a meme to my page that said “not now darling, mommy is having drunk time.” I deleted it and announced that I don’t find drunk mommy humor the least bit funny. We do need to stop legitimizing everything under the sun. I think that as a society we are taking “live and let live” a little too far and more people need to risk offending people and speaking up against that which they see as wrong.

  7. Amen!! I think a lot of people do it to try and be funny, but it’s so tired and uninteresting. And for those who are serious in their state of ‘my kids drive me to drink’-ness, well I agree that’s sad and unsettling. Probably yet another example of how the crap we are spewing on the Internet will come back to haunt us, or others, in ways we can’t even imagine because we’re the first generation of parents to experience it at this level. Fun! 😛

      • This is an interesting idea. When everyone is scandalized nobody is scandalized. Scandalizing behavior would be the norm…usually the culture at large sort of reigns in “bad” behavior with it’s disapproval, but if there is no disapproval what happens next?

  8. And, thank YOU! I know a lot of bloggers exaggerate just to up their readership, but its getting really tiring, and boring now! And, I wonder how their kids will feel if they come across their blog in the future!?! Will they laugh it off or will it be really, really hurtful? Will that be worth the money they made blogging?!!

  9. Wow! Maybe you should change your website to “no Holding Back!” I love it that you were willing to put all that out there. You are right, and it’s made me think about some of the comments that I have made… just trying to be funny of course. But I have also been thinking a lot lately about how many people are becoming popular over their “bad parenting” including drinking, rather than good parenting. I will think very carefully before making what are apparently NOT funny comments about drinking. Truth be told, I do drink a lot. Not because my kids drive me to drink (although they do drive me crazy periodically, but they are 5, 3, and 1 years old, they are supposed to!!!) but I drink to numb the pain from my loss that I clearly have not adequately dealt with. However, I don’t start drinking til my husband gets home, and I’m certainly not DRUNK – I will have one or two glasses throughout the evening. It just kind of soothes me. I’m like the smoker who just needs 1-2 cigs an evening. Not every evening.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that these words really struck me, because I have said some things jokingly without really thinking about their long term impact. I do NOT tell my children they are driving me to drink. Never. Good grief, my kids were probably the only thing that saved me in the worst of times. I do tell them a million times that they are smart, they are kind, they are beautiful and I love them!

    • Hey A, my words don’t mean to judge, and I don’t think you took them that way, but our kids are sponges and we are gods to them. I say this a lot: if we forget what it’s like to be them, we should get on our knees and “walk” around on them, because that’s their world view.

      So much has changed in parenting with awareness and more adult children coming to terms with their pasts and how they were shaped by the meaningless yet callous and mostly unintentional words and phrases. But others of us, who grew up in that world of addiction don’t think it’s so funny.

      I know someone whose daughter wrote a sign in her little kid scrawl (she was 8) that said, “it’s 6 o’clock somewhere” with a picture of a glass of wine and she taped it on the front door. The mom thought this was a scream, and she took a picture of it, with her own caption and then POSTED IT ALL ON FACEBOOK and my heart sank. It wasn’t funny and it was her kid telling her, “I hear you and I see you and it’s not cool.”

      I have no monopoly on how to parent, but I do know kids don’t get sarcasm, they are literal and they just need us to show up for the job. Easier said than done, yes, but it’s a start.

      Thanks for being so honest about yourself. I grew up with a crazy home life and almost every time I try to talk about it, I’m told I’m mistaken or to get over it. One parent will be real and the other runs and hides. It’s up to us to decide how / if we want to leave that legacy. Xo

      • Trust me, I understand. I grew up in a pretty dysfunctional family myself. And I know how much parents can warp their children, especially by words! I appreciated this post, and didn’t take it as judgement! I needed the reminder! 🙂

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