Over a couple of beers I was talking with a friend about kids. He’s only a scant few weeks away from parenthood himself, so he’s actually one of my few childless friends that doesn’t mind me prattling on about my offspring. He said that he felt bad because he hasn’t really spent a lot of quality time with the Bean. When we see each other it’s either guy’s night, where there are no kids, or at a BBQ, where there’s a lot of other stuff going on--like drinking and swimming and friends and food...
“Don’t take this the wrong way,” he said. “But in those situations I don’t always want to turn it on and be with the kids.”
“Dude,” I said. “I don’t always want to turn it on and be with the kids.”
Then I explained to him that being a parent doesn’t always mean being a good parent. There are plenty of days when I’m half-assing it. The Bean is talking incessantly about who freakin’ knows what and I’m throwing out well timed nods and “yeses” to make him think I’m invested in what he’s saying.
“So look man, don’t feel bad about this. When you’re out in the sun standing next to a pool with a mai tai in your hand, don’t ruin your buzz because you feel obligated to spend time with my kids.”
I think my buddy was a little shocked to hear this. And as I’m talking and taking in his dazed expression, I realize that there are certain idealized notions that comes along with new parenthood. These usually get squashed pretty quickly when the reality of having kids sets in.
Or during drunken conversations with a friend who’s been at it for a few years.