Thursday, September 18, 2014

I'll Take the Bat

I saw this grammatical monstrosity on Facebook the other day in the form of a badly made meme:

“It takes a strong man to accept somebody else’s children and step up to the plate another man left on the table.”

There are so many things wrong with this sentiment, for one, the idioms are totally mixed up.  I hope whoever wrote it was joking, but I haven’t seen it used in a joking way.  Dudes, stepping up to the plate is a baseball analogy.  It’s not about eating your dinner.  Any idiot can eat what’s on their plate.  (Your mom probably cooked it for you anyway.)   If you want to portray yourself as a strong man, being able to form a coherent sentence is a good place to start.

Secondly, it’s not a heroic act for a man to be involved in raising a child, let's stop pretending that it is.  Raising a child can be pretty damn rewarding with all the no strings attached love children readily give to those that care for them.  Yes, there are people who cannot handle it, but I think most of those people have some other things wrong with them or their circumstances if they completely abandon their children or can’t possibly love a child who didn’t originate from their own reproductive system.  Anyway, the whole thing has a disturbing victim/savior flavor to it that isn’t particularly healthy.  Dammit...I lost count of my points while I was ranting.  Where was I?  Um, seventhly(?), I can raise my own damn kids, thank you very much.  I’ll elaborate on that last point later.

Also, let’s not forget that most children of single moms have fathers out there somewhere.  Many of them are around at least every other week or on weekends.  Just because the relationship with mom did not work out does not mean that the child’s relationship with dad is null and void.  That dad might not be the perfect dad, but the child still needs to come to grips with whatever their relationship with their father may be.  You are not a replacement for dad.   You are step-dad, or mom’s boyfriend, or Bob.  You can just be Bob.  Be the best Bob you can be.

This brings me around to how pissed off I get when I see a single mom try desperately to find a replacement for dad because she feels her family is no longer complete after a divorce or break up.  I think that broken feeling may be a pretty natural feeling right after the break up, but it still makes me irrationally angry.  Ladies, I promise that feeling won’t last forever.  Adding another person to the family does not immediately fix everything anyway.  Your feelings need to be dealt with separately, and the solution is not immediately throwing Bob into the mix.

Here’s the biggest secret I’ve learned after being a single mom for a decade, your family can be complete with just one adult in the main residence.  You can be a complete role model for your children all on your own.  Having one healthy, functional caretaker is better than having two in a dysfunctional relationship.  Being a complete person and a complete role model is a great place to start teaching your kids to be whole people who do not need another half to thrive.  It’s a nice side effect of having to pull off parenting on your own.  I think this is an especially important concept to get across to our girls…you do not need a Prince Charming to save you.  Be your own Princess Charming, although you don’t have to be charming about it, just go kick some ass.

When I was growing up my parents both had their individual strengths.  My dad worked long hours so my mom could stay home.  I saw my dad go off to work every day whether he was happy about it or not.  The man drove over an hour each way to work so we could live in a nice town with good schools.  That instilled a work ethic in me that lasted through adulthood.  It also instilled a responsibility to provide a good home for my children whether I like my livelihood or not (and no matter how far I have to drive).  This is also the entire reason I laugh at people when they tell me to chuck my career and follow my dreams.  Grow up and spout your nonsense elsewhere you silly ninnies, I have children to feed and educate.  But I digress…

My dad was also great at helping us with sports and music.  I coach my kids’ sports teams and help them with their instruments because I learned those things from my father.  I also talk to them about the importance of making a living for yourself…and lo and behold!  I don’t even have a penis!  I can still do all of those things!  It’s a weird concept, I know, but get used to it kids, the look of the modern family is changing and it is here to stay.  Speaking of modern family, just watch Modern Family for a bunch of hilarious but effective examples if you need further education on the subject.

Some people have separated, single parents, some lose a parent at a young age, some have adoptive parents, some have two moms, and some have two dads.  That doesn’t mean the family unit is forever damaged.  When the adults in charge of raising children put a lot of love and effort into raising those children things tend to turn out just fine.  (By the way, if you didn’t know this already, plenty of people with a mom and a dad in the same household had horribly dysfunctional upbringings.)  The most important thing my dad taught me was that I can do anything, and do it well, if I put enough effort, practice, and research into it.  I am here to tell you that you can do it too, and you don’t need to set another plate at the table.