A couple of days ago, I was chatting with a brother (you know, not the blood-related kind) who happens to also work in the same firm as me when we somehow moved on to the topic of hands-off parents. He shared a story of his friend, and if memory serves me well, the gist of it goes somewhat like this:
– Friend (Mum) has a toddler but plays no part in taking care of the kid
– Toddler only wants either the Dad or helper to carry or play with
– One fine day over a potluck Mum tells my friend that her kid hates cheese when my friend offered the kid some homemade cheese tarts
– Kid proceeds to devour a few cheese tarts enthusiastically right after Mum makes that statement
– Everyone laughs at Mum for not knowing her kid at all
– Mum is nonchalant about it, says that that was what her helper told her
I laughed at this story for a while, and so did my friend, let’s call him Guang (Hi Guang!). Slowly we began telling similar stories of our respective friends/acquaintances and I realized that such irresponsible parenting exists more often than I thought it would. As both of us are pretty hands-on fathers, the more we talked about our opposites, the more free-flowing our vulgarities spewed.
Parents – it’s time to grow up and start acting like one.
Undeniably, life was simpler, cheaper and less stressful before having kids. This is a universal fact for all parents.
Do I miss the times when I can:
– Go out for drinks after work with friends and colleagues?
– Have a date night every Friday with Mama Toh?
– Catch a weekly movie every Saturday?
– Stay up every Saturday/Sunday to catch Man Utd games and subsequently drink enough beer to numb myself from the frustration?
But would I rather these 2 monkeys not come into my life?
And slowly, the Yes from the first question about missing your non-parenthood life becomes weaker and weaker as I build more memories as a bigger family.
Like what Mama Toh used to grouse about, many parents still think that the occasional date night is important for a relationship to continue being strong.
Yes, I agree, with an emphasis on ‘occasional‘.
Wedding anniversaries, birthdays, the occasional team dinner/farewell drinks. Yes, these are fine. At least to me.
Month-saries are for secondary school kids. Weekly drinks till late are for single people who want to mingle. We shouldn’t even be bringing up clubbing.
The bottom line is, and I don’t know why this isn’t blatantly clear enough, that as parents we have a lifelong responsibility to our kids.
If you want to enjoy yourself without your kids, by all means take a day off work (I advise to do so legally through leave application) to go for whatever movie or fancy lunch. But at the end of it all, do yourselves and your kids a favor – pick them from school and ask them how their day went.
Just remember guys, time is best present you can give to your kids.
Eventually there will be a day when your kids are all too grown up and teenage angst takes over. By then they wouldn’t even want to go out with you or talk to you in full sentences.
And when that happens, all you can do is to look back at old photos to reminisce about the old times.
Assuming you even bother taking photos of them when they are young, of course.
Exhale…… What a rant.