I'd say I'm a pretty average parent. I play with my kids, I look at my phone, I do dishes, I do 13 loads of laundry a day and I fall asleep at 9:00 p.m. pretty regularly. Some things I do well and others I struggle at.
For instance, this morning I ripped our shower curtain down as I got a bath ready for our girls because, well, because shower curtains can suck when it is early in the morning and you are already running behind. But yesterday, my daughter told me she loved me more than chocolate, and I know how much people can love chocolate so I think I'm coming out even.
Another thing I would say I am pretty average at is occasionally having alcohol.
Yes, even though I am a parent with two kids under the age of seven, I still sometimes have "grownup drinks." That seems pretty standard for many of the parents who fly in my circle. Not all parents drink of course, but I have never really considered having a few drinks -- or even a night every once in a while with more then two drinks -- to be the deciding vote in whether or not one was a good parent.
So my initial reaction to the comment section of this image I put together after I "heroically" was the first to wake up in our house after our annual Christmas party was "aww, come on."
The reaction (and admittedly this was only by some and not completely widespread) was to condemn the idea that parents might partake in a night of fun and even have alcohol be a part of that night and that fun. Or that having a night out without the kids equaled abandonment and treachery to your children -- many stating that being an alcoholic is not something to celebrate as a superpower.
First, I want to say that alcoholism is serious. It is as serious as the idea that someone suffering from alcoholism can't still be a good parent is ridiculous. Addiction isn't something to throw around willy-nilly. Calling all adults who drink alcohol alcoholics is disingenuous to those who really are fighting alcoholism. To the many parents struggling with this addiction while also doing their best to raise kids -- which isn't easy under any circumstance -- keep it up.
I get it isn't actually a superpower to wake up the night after you've had drinks and still interact with your children like you are their parents. But, it's an expert level of parent-shaming to suggest parents spending time as adults is a bad thing for their kids. I have done both -- gone out without kids and had drinks without kids. Sometimes I even do these simultaneously. Our wedding anniversary is an example of one of those nights we chose to find care for our children and GO OUT ON OUR OWN TO HAVE A RAUCOUS TIME WITHOUT KIDS.
And sometimes I even have a beer right in front of my kids.
"Dad, what is that that you're drinking?"
Now, I could say "oh, it's grown up apple juice," or "oh it's nothing," and then throw what I have down the toilet. Orrrr, I could say "it's beer. It's not really for you but it's tasty. Want to go read a story?"
I kid you not, these types of interactions are so common that they're boring. They happen while I'm wearing long-johns or old running shorts and slippers with the toes almost completely gone. The glass I drink with has My Little Ponies on it and if that's dirty, it's probably a McDonald's giveaway cup. We have to regularly dust off our bottles of rum or whisky when people come over. We have a "good set" of wine glasses for guests, and plastic for us.
And I think BORING is probably they key to this whole story. The picture people have of parents drinking at home or out of the home has got to be something completely different than what's happening. To the people who criticize parents for having a night of drunken foolishness, I do not know what you think parents get up to on those rare opportunities their kids aren't watching, but I can give you some detail on what the "night of partying" in my image means.
I expect you're thinking "they go out, do body shots out of each other's belly buttons, tie their ties around their head and run down the street knocking over mailboxes and then get home and wake up their kids and bring them to go get tattoos with them."
You're partially wrong.
Here is us before we "party." Check our looks we're pretty hardcore...
Us on a night out
When my partner and I drink together without the kids we:
- eat more cheese than should be humanly possible.
- turn Harry Potter Scene It into a drinking game.
- watch more then three straight episodes of Making a Murderer.
- question how we used to be able to stay up until the clock moved past midnight.
- remember the "good old days."
- think we can dance and pull hamstrings or calves or quadriceps when we go to prove it.
- say "it's getting late," every ten minutes beginning at 10 p.m.
- solve world peace.
- drink gallons of water so that we can get up in the morning and play guess which game I want to play now with our kids.
What I'm saying is that many of us parents are really bad at "partying." We have a few drinks and kind of connect on an adult level and admit that we're at a stage of our lives that we really love and that while we're happy and lucky to be able to get a night away every once in a while, we think our Mio infused average weeknights are pretty great too.
I think the "parent needs a drink in their hand at all time because kids are wild animals" trope is overplayed. I don't like the idea that parents always need to drink to get through their lives. But I do think it's good for parents to have a release point from the daily struggles that come with raising small humans. Some take a few minutes away to read a book, some watch Netflix on repeat. Some grab a drink.
Some go out a few times a year with their partner or their friends or on their own and live a life away from their kids, as adults can do. Hearkening back to a prior you doesn't make you a bad parent. And no, it doesn't make you a superhero. But I do still wish you luck that following morning.