Tonight, when you have reached your wit’s end with your kid and feel like throwing yourself or something heavy through the front window, look at your kid for a second. Appreciate that they are healthy and alive enough to drive you crazy. Being a good parent is all about keeping things in perspective. Perfection is never attainable in parenting. You will utter curse words under your breath and mutter phrases that would make other parents label you as a bad person. Being the caretaker of a child is built around providing them safety and care throughout a battlefield of chaos. Like marriage, you don’t ever win fights with your kids. You try to win rounds and accumulate enough points by the end of the day so they end up learning something or you don’t need three glasses of scotch. It’s a long run but damn is it worth it. (I just threw a coin in the curse jar….too bad I don’t have one of those yet.)
Remember tonight when you happen to sniff your hand and it smells like a glorious concoction of snot, chocolate, ritz cracker crumbles and 3 hour old poop that it is ALL worth it. Keep in mind one year ago today 20 parents lost their 6 and 7 year old kids when a kid brought three guns into Sandy Hook Elementary and unleashed a level of rage and violence that is still hard to digest 365 days later. Be glad that you still get the chance to deal with the little brat who won’t sit still when getting dressed or doesn’t want to eat the meat on his dinner plate. When he wants to watch Polar Express for the 60th time and you have grown scared of the CGI Tom Hanks, do it anyway and be glad to deal with this brand of chaos. Every time I truly get mad(okay most of the time) with Vincent, I remember those 20 parents who don’t have the chance to get mad with their kids anymore. Sure, some of them have younger or older kids and didn’t lose all of them. They did lose a kid and feel the hatred running through their veins every time they walk into the kid’s room and see nothing changed from December 14th, 2012.
The fact is when I pick up my kids perfectly distorted toys off the ground tonight, I will do it with a small level of gratitude. Just think about the idea of walking into the room for consecutive days with everything in its perfect spot. Trucks aligned in a row. Train tracks all put away. No stuffed animals thrown. Clothes folded inside a drawer. No pieces of cereal on the ground gathering dust. The mere thought of it scares the shit out of me. I almost have to go knock a tray of toys onto the floor right now just to go through the motions. I can’t imagine how parents who have lost a young child must feel. This is in no way a smack to parents who lose 20 year olds or older kids fighting overseas, killed in car accidents or to other horrible circumstances. I fully believe a parent SHOULD NEVER have to bury their child. It has to be the other way around or I will never call this world a grand place.
There is something brutally tragic and horribly unfair about losing a young child, toddler or baby. A stomach pain erupts when you think about it. For once, you feel a truly violent edge standing up inside you. When the idea of losing a human being who isn’t old enough to defend themselves comes around, there is only sadness and despair inside this 31 year old stay at home dad.
I get a lot of 1 on 1 time with Vin these days. There are good days and bad days. Days where french fries and candy make up a meal and others where the 2 year old practically eats a salad. He holds me in the palm of his filthy hand most days, but every night I look down at him or think after I put him to bed how lucky I am to be a parent and have a healthy rambunctious kid. Other families had their light taken out of their lives far too early. Kids with cancer and disease. Kids involved in school shootings. Kids at the wrong place at the wrong time.
The first thought I had last December when I heard about Sandy Hook was just cold. Sitting at Ronnoco Coffee doing UPS orders, I thought about my little Vinny sitting in one of those classrooms playing his butt off and learning. I then thought of that kid walking into the room with those weapons and went through the entire situation. I made myself do it, as horrible as it was. Out of respect to those families and to the idea of it. As much as we don’t want to think tragedy could actually happen to us, it is seriously right on our doorstep at all times. Every single day.
So do me a favor and forget about perfect. Remember, perfect can mean sadness. Perfect is a row of trucks or cars sitting untouched in a kid’s bedroom. We don’t need perfect. We need strength and life from our kids. If you think you are an imperfect parent, then you are probably are and guess what, it’s alright. It’s just fine.
Join the party and appreciate being a part of it.
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