By Frank Lowe
Originally published on Advocate.com June 02 2014 1:41 PM ET
Twitter is a wonderful collection of people’s thoughts, whether they’re garbage or gold. My personal tweeting style (@GayAtHomeDad) is as erratic as my moods, so on some days you will see my snarky, bitchy side, and on others you will see my confident, motivational side. I keep a short, tight list of people I follow to maintain a quality feed that is inspirational and hilarious. Sometimes I will see a tweet that is so profound, it’s begging to be discussed. My friend Jennifer, who boasts almost 27,000 followers and goes by the handle @NotJPo, tweeted my favorite parenting observation ever. Check it out for yourselves:
I messaged her and said “OMG, this is totally me – I probably think about this every few hours.” We laughed about it, then discussed how true this was. There are moments that I think I’m an amazing parent, and moments that I think I’m an awful parent. Apparently the fact that I’m even analyzing my parenting skills means that I’m probably a damn good one overall.
There truly isn’t a rulebook for parenting, and if there were, it would have to be different for each individual parent. Parenting is rather organic in nature and is a constant learning experience. When you have a child from birth, the initial thoughts that go through your head revolve around keeping the baby alive. Your sole concern is to make sure you do not accidentally kill the baby. The fear of death is breathing over your shoulder at all points in time, even when they sleep (hello, SIDS). This evolves as your child gets older, and with our almost 5-year-old, our main concern is that he doesn’t hurt himself very badly. He tends to be accident-prone, and there isn’t a week that goes by that his school doesn’t call to report he’s hit his head or fallen down the stairs or banged up his knees. We’ve already had one trip to the emergency room, when he hit the corner of a desk with his forehead and created a huge gash that required seven stitches (he handled them like a pro). My thought process about him now revolves around What the hell will come next? This concern that I have causes me to sometimes be overbearing. Sometimes I say no for what seems like no reason. Sometimes I overreact because I get scared for him. Then after doing so, I question my parenting. Sometimes.
I’m an awful parent goes through my head more often than not. I think I’m too strict or that I should let him eat more sweets or should spend more time playing with him. Realistically, my focus is my parenting, so by default that makes me a good one – right? We are all our worst critics, and the ultimate test will be when my son grows up and we can reminisce about his childhood together. I want him to remember all of the fun memories I’ve tried to create for him and all of the interesting conversations we have. Hopefully he won’t harbor any negative feelings about my saying no incessantly or establishing important “house rules.” If he does, however, then I will show him this article and say “See, son? I’ve always thought I was an awful parent, so at least I own that shit and you can’t say jack about it.” Let’s hope he remembers yes to Disney World instead of no to the questionable equipment at our local park. Either way, I know that “I’m an awful parent” means “I’m a damn good parent,” so I'm proud to say I suck.
FRANK LOWE is The Advocate’s parenting writer. Follow Frank on Twitter @GayAtHomeDad and on Instagram at gayathomedad.