Parental Guidance in the flesh ( bless my wife)

Today was the annual “field day” at my seven year old’s elementary school. Since my older cluster of kids were home schooled for the most part I came to know about field day only as my now 16 year old was in middle school, now subsequently with my little one. As an older parent of a young child something happened today while I was out there. Something (for me) profound, but dealing with what is really obvious.

If it had been a movie the scene would have me standing and the camera circling faster and faster with blurred images of the kids in the background becoming little more than swirling colors and an electric swooshing sound growing into a loud crescendo at the moment the thoughts congealed. The moment had a catalyst.

We, my wife and I, were standing in the classroom prior to the beginning of the outdoor activities. The “room mom” was asking grilling the teacher on what the arrangements for lunch would be. The teacher explained. The room mom would not relent…”what about napkins, what about fruit, what about this and that?” The teacher is the rare 30 year old who isn’t fallen into the over-do-everything way that today’s guilt driven parents all seem to be so she was flustered. I just watched. My wife chomped her bit. And we had just watched Parental Guidance last evening so the parody of those ridiculous parents was standing right in front of us.

Sit that aside for a moment.

Outside we went. My wife was charged with a group of eight kids from the class, and she was to move them from station to station. No big deal. At each station was a parent assigned to facilitate the activity. Boy honey did they facilitate. Imagine the Bataan death march being managed by frozen faced smiles hiding clenched teeth, manufactured cheerfulness and an exuding desire that these kids have a good day….dammit! These women were bought in and sold out. And it showed.

It showed because I suddenly noticed that my wife, at 47, was one of maybe three attractive women in the entire crowd. The rest looked worn out, overweight, poorly dressed, pale, and unapproachable with attitude. My wife, bless her, after four kids is still within five pounds of the 120 she weighed when we met. And its not a product of obsession, not even a little bit. To the contrary, the other mom’s unattractiveness IS a product of their obsession, and their obsession is their kids. And this hit me as one arm of the divorce epidemic that we know instinctively, even discuss tangentially, but is bigger than we give due.

I once heard my wife take a call from the school. My daughter had grabbed a hot bar on the playground equipment (sun heated) and it had burned her hand. My wife asked, “is it blistered, visibly burned?”. No “Well is she crying?”yes she cried. “No, I mean is she crying right now?”. Well, no. “Then send her back to class.” I’m sure that cemented her reputation as an uncaring horrible mother. The scandal that she didn’t drive right down there and rescue the child from the school and maybe take her somewhere and buy something special to make up for the badness of the day. But…what they didn’t know is that I had stole home from work in the middle of the day and we were alone. Nuff said. Betcha she is in a small minority.

What is driving parents to be those absurd people in that movie? I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry because the parents portrayed are more the norm than the grandparents, who to me, were the normal ones. It had a good message when Bette Midler told her daughter to go and be with her husband because the kids leave and the husband stays. How many of the moms I saw today would be moved by that scene? And how many would lump that scene in with the humor and yuk it away?

I work with a guy. His son married a woman who is a medical Dr. Top of class, Vanderbuilt. Smart gal. They had babies. The babies are the kids from that movie, the parents too. It drives my colleague crazy. The kids are vegans, they eat hummus, they have speaking protocols, and they recycle dontcha know. They make my colleague take all his guns to a neighbors house when they visit. He has a steel, locked gun safe. Not enough, its the aura of eviiilllll that the steel cannot contain. They are devoted parents indeed. But are they a couple? Time will tell.

There are two levels of Utopia being pursued. One is just the secular liberal idealism that says that our lives really are like The Game of Life…where if you just set the rules correctly we will move in an orderly fashion around the board, happy in whatever block we land in at the moment.

But the other is for the kids, and it is insidious in so many ways. Life isn’t even real like that. It produces adults who move on to chase the other Utopia. And God is not truly a part of either, because who needs Him when all of life’s corners are padded, and all the outlets have plastic inserts and the cabinets where the organic cleansing products are kept are triple locked and no one holds anyone accountable for anything except not buying into the Utopian dream?

The church adds to the foundations of this false fortress instead of blowing the literal hell out of it.

I’m not sure if I said anything new but I feel better



10 thoughts on “Parental Guidance in the flesh ( bless my wife)

  1. They make my colleague take all his guns to a neighbors house when they visit.

    The answer to this is for your colleague to tell his son and DIL that there is no way he’s willing to leave his grandchildren unprotected on his property by disarming himself.

  2. ooooh, double like! I haven’t seen the movie you mentioned, but I love the line:
    go and be with her husband because the kids leave and the husband stays

    I’m walking back a bit of weight gain, and you know, it bears repeating that the obsession with our kids robs us (or stands to rob us) of normal healthy relationships with the rest of the world, which ultimately robs our children of that same thing. In other words, it robs us of NORMAL HEALTH, which can only be categorized as poor parenting. Maintaining physical health has become some sort of negotiable option. That simply isn’t true, and how crappy to blame the results of your bad behavior on some distorted version of love for your children. It’s really ugly.

  3. ” To the contrary, the other mom’s unattractiveness IS a product of their obsession, and their obsession is their kids. And this hit me as one arm of the divorce epidemic that we know instinctively, even discuss tangentially, but is bigger than we give due.”

    This is a point that reminds me of something that Mark Gungor says. He reminds women not to get so caught up in being a mom that they neglect being a wife. It is definitely a factor in the divorce epidemic. In fact I’d wager that it is one of the more common driving forces in cases where men actually file the divorce.

  4. Good to see you on the radar chaz

    There is something about this that is a part of all the rest. Its not an island, this over parenting thing. Of course its a part of the overall societal morass, but more specifically its a part of the stuff of the manosphere. Im trying to figure out how to connect it all together and write it out.

  5. Well, here is a start, from todays Family Life email:

    You’ve been through the same type of difficulties your children are facing now, whether as preschoolers, school-age kids or teenagers. But have you forgotten what it was really like to be their age? When they suffer setbacks, are you there to give them the emotional support they need–from someone who’s been there?

    Our oldest daughter, Ashley, tried out for the cheerleading squad three times in a row but failed to be chosen on each occasion. Still, she decided to give it one final effort during her junior year, and this time we went all out.

    I arranged for her to take lessons. I videotaped her practicing. Together we critiqued her moves. We prayed and prayed about it, feeling surer each time that God wanted her to make the team this year. It would give her a strong platform for influencing her public school for Christ.

    But when the tryouts came around, she didn’t make it. This time, I was as heartbroken as she was. It seemed so unfair. We cried for hours, so upset that she had to endure this loss a fourth time in a row.

    I could have said to her, “Ashley, cheerleading really isn’t all that important. You’re making too much of a fuss over this.” But this was the most important thing in her life at the time, and she needed me to let her know it was okay for her to cry, to feel sad . . . even to wonder why God had said no again.

    Through an amazing set of circumstances, Ashley ended up being selected for the squad a week later. But as I look back on that experience now, I realize that the biggest thing God accomplished in our lives at that time was to knit our souls together, mother and daughter, in sorrow.

    See how Barbara dragged God into this?

    Then from Fox News an interview with a Sopranos actor about this very thing where he says

    “I’ve worked too hard all my life to have my kids control my life,” he said. “I’ve been with parents and the kids drive them crazy every two minutes, ‘What do you need? Are you OK?’ Let the kids be!”

  6. We saw the movie Parental Guidance also, and I really liked that line from Bette Midler. I was actually pretty shocked that a movie with this particular message was produced.

    One of my primary goals has always been to remember that (besides Christ for the sticklers), our marriage is the foundation o which this family is built. Too many women get so caught up in motherhood that they forget about being a wife.

    But this is the message that the culture teaches. First your children, then your family of origin, then your girlfriends, and if you have anything left, the husband might get lucky tonight.

    And hey SV: I’m 15 pounds overweight myself. I’m still ahead a of a significant portion of 41-year-old mothers and unlike most, I’m like you; trying to do something about it.

  7. Hey, good job on the middle of the afternoon booty call! And your wife’s prioritizing sex over a non-event at school was quite proper.

    (Old Hat, I live 6 mins from work)

  8. They are devoted parents indeed. But are they a couple?

    I saw something yesterday at homeschool PE class that reminded me of this snippet. We’ve been attending this class for the entire school year and just recently I realized that a father who sometimes pops in is the husband of one of the mothers I’d been seeing for the whole year. When he comes in they say nothing to each other. Nothing. Literally. I didn’t even know they were a couple.

    I concur with SSM. Your wife sounds like a pretty good example.

  9. Oh I didn’t know that was a Bette Midler line from a movie. It’s something that my mother (God rest her soul) used to tell the women from church who would come to her for marriage counsel. People tend to forget that almost everything that seems traumatic at the moment in childhood really isn’t a big deal. I cannot remember more than a few things that I got upset over in my childhood — most things really don’t matter nearly that much.

    But if your life is your children, then the husband is a superfluous accessory. These kinds of parents actually harm their kids and destroy their marriages in an effort to impress other people and to work out their own issues through their kids. Children will be there for 20 years; the marriage is supposed to be for a lifetime.

  10. Pingback: Lightning Round – 2013/05/22 | Free Northerner

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