2017-10-11 / Opinion

In My Opinion

Pain-free parenting?
BY AARON SEIFFERLEIN,
SANDUSKY High school teacher

Don’t you wish there existed an Uber like app for parenting? Some service that you could contact at any time to whisk away your children briefly while you regain your sanity. Our culture tells us that being a parent is important and rewarding but is that really what the people in the trenches (parents of small children) would say if you caught them unfiltered on a live mic? I suspect that in an honest, judgement-free conversation, we would see that there is some strife to parenting underneath all those Kodak moments.

Perhaps a key reason why raising a family is seen in such a positive light is that parents feel pressure to lie about their lives in order to look competent in front of their peers. I doubt that this habit of sharing “alternative facts” about our children is new to parenting but in the age of social media, it has clearly gone to new extremes with filters, perfect pictures and overly edited anecdotes about childrearing. Our society is selling the misleading idea that parenting is a glorious voyage to nirvana rather than honestly portraying it as a challenging, long-term investment.

However, naïve childless adults and parents who are fishing for compliments on social media are not the only ones fueling the myth of a parental paradise. I believe the main culprits behind this Machiavellian plot to maintain the status quo are older parents whose children have moved away. It’s as if a fog of positivity sweeps over them leading them to offer platitudes like, “enjoy it while it lasts” and “you’ll miss those years when your children are young.” The worst part is that, as so often proves true, our elders are right. For example, I suspect that I will fondly remember potty training my very stubborn second born as a stress-free and even humorous time. I might remember the euphoria I felt on the first day that he finally defecated in the potty. All the while, I will conveniently forget the fact that after lifting him in the air repeatedly while shouting “hip hip hooray” the skeptic in me panicked and suddenly looked at his hand. My son, in an effort to please and indeed use the potty, had simply duked in his diaper and then meticulously picked out (scraped out if you will) the evidence and manually placed it in the desired location.

It would seem that the human brain, in an evolutional quirk designed to propagate the species, erases the pain and stress or at least minimizes them and exaggerates the good memories through some kind of inherited, genetic nostalgia. It must be a built in survival instinct! The problem is that those who are currently living with small children cannot so easily disregard the negative even if you try at night with an adult beverage … or ten, as the situation merits! Yet, despite all the stress, worry and frustration, it is reassuring to know that I too will someday fall into the bliss that can only come from earnest forgetfulness, rewriting the past or just a blatant disregard for the truth.

When my children have moved away, I will welcome my sacred duty to fawn over babies, to ask young parents about their children and to encourage them with positive comments, in short, to glorify parenting. I just wonder if I’ll be able to do all this without a smirk and an evil twitch in my eye.

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