This ain’t The Love Boat & I ain’t Julie McCoy. I don’t know when we, as parents, changed from “parents” to “cruise & entertainment directors”. I was actually talking about this to my mom & dad a couple weeks ago, but it came back to the forefront today. You see, my daughter (who’s 10, going on 11) is under the impression that it’s MY JOB to think up fun & interesting activities for her when she’s bored. Oh, and she’s also grounded. So she can’t play with friends or watch TV or play computer. So, somehow, it became my responsibility to conjure up stuff for her to do. And, because I’m saying no to all her suggestions (baking cookies, going somewhere, riding alone to the library), I’m made of suck.
See, here’s the thing. I never would have DREAMED of going to my mother and demanding that she plan my entertainment for the day. It never would have crossed my mind to expect her to play with me. She either would have laughed in myÂ face or screamed at me that she was busy – what was wrong with me?!? Somehow, our generation of mothers, especially, are expected to be the source of everything for our kids. We’re supposed to engage them, entertain them, enrich their lives with activities and adventures and crap. Everywhere we turn, we’re told how we can better “play” with our kids or ways to enrich them and that kind of thing. Trips to go on, places to visit, activities to engage them with – all carefully planned and led by mommy. Pick up a Parents or Parenting or Family Fun magazine and leaf through it. It’s chock-full of stuff you’re SUPPOSED to be doing with your kids and woe upon you if you don’t.
I know there are moms out there who do this stuff. Who have craft time scheduled every week and take the kids to the park everyday and take time to teach them gardening and all about the insects in the soil and stuff. Good on you. If you enjoy that and it blesses you & your kids, that’s awesome. It’s the new expectation that, as a mom, you’d BETTER be doing this kind of stuff that gets under my skin.
My parents were completely unaware of this. As grandparents, they’re not exposed to this trend and sat in slack-jawed disbelief as I explained it to them. About the way we’re made to feel guilty if we don’t want to play Thomas trains with our kids. About the onslaught of articles and gentle “reminders” we’re hit with telling us how we need to bike ride and play outside and dig holes and go to the zoo and grow plants and play Barbies and build with blocks and teach about shapes and colors out in the world. My mother? Actually laughed. OUT LOUD. When I asked what was funny, she replied, “I just thought about my mother riding bikes with us and it was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever imagined.”
So, see, HER mother didn’t play with her. Didn’t even consider enriching her or riding bikes with her (and her sisters) or playing dolls with her. She was BUSY. Even the thought of ASKING her to join them or come up with something for them to do is, even now, ridiculous to my mother. And, goodness knows, it’s ridiculous to me. We NEVER asked my mother for stuff like that. Of course, my mom’s situation was vastly different, but still. My husband’s mother never did, either. She was a SAHM of 4 kids. She didn’t play with them or go bike riding with them or take them to the park. She was BUSY. The kids played with each other or other kids in the neighborhood. And, while I might have been bored and even dared share that with my mother, I NEVER insisted that it was her responsibility to provide me with entertainment.
Our generation is truly expected to do everything. We should work, have our own hobbies or lives outside caring for the children, keep a good house, enrich, enlighten and engage our children far beyond what any previous generation has done, be a good cook, an interesting and attractive wife, and still have time to continue to learn, grow and flourish as our own persons. If I was a swearer, I’d unleash a string of profanity that would make the guys on Deadliest Catch blush. This is horse-pucky. A big, old, forgotten pile of horse-pucky, covered in flies and what they lay, some vomit and rotting vegetables. It’s the reason why so many of us moms are on meds today. Because the stress of trying to meet all these expectations makes us CRAZY. It’s certainly why I’m on Zoloft. There isn’t a woman alive who can be this person. Without pharmecuticals or a whole lotta booze.
I’m sick of it. There is only ONE of me. In order to not end up digging out my own eyeball with an icepick, I will simply do the best I can and the rest will have to burn. My children will have to learn how to entertain themselves. They have plenty of books, a backyard, Legos and big brains filled with imagination. FIGURE. IT. OUT. Because if I have to hear the deep, soul-rending sigh of a preteen girl, filled with tears as she stomps up the stairs screaming, “I HATE YOU!!!” with all the feeling of Meryl Streep choosing between her children, I will take a hostage, I swear to God. I am NOT Julie McCoy & this AIN’T the freaking Love Boat.Tweet