I’m getting into the home stretch here. On Tuesday I will be 36 weeks pregnant. As in, get prepared because that baby can pop out at any time weeks pregnant. The closer I get to birthin’ my baby the more I find myself observing parents and their children. Not in a bad judgy “You are a bad parent how can you?!” way. More like, “Holy crap that’s going to be me a little over a month. May I watch you in your natural behaviors?” Sorry to any parents I’ve freaked out in the last few weeks. I’m not creepy, I’m pregnant.
For the most part I smile at the parent and carry on my way. It’s mostly mothers who see me looking at them or their kid then see my huge belly and give a kind smile my way. It’s as though we have a psychic conversation of, “Good luck!” “Thanks, you’re kid is very cute”. Sometimes I do see parents who I don’t think are being their best version of themselves at that moment. Yelling, screaming sometimes, at their kid that they are a brat and need to calm down. Or the parents who are letting their kids literally run at full speed around the grocery store yelling and chasing each other and just turn their head to the bell peppers.
The one thing that I’ve observed over time though is a phrase that makes my skin crawl. “I gave birth to you. You owe me.” or “I gave you life. You owe me.” Sometimes this is said in jest to older children. Sometimes I’ve heard it said to younger children in not such a jesting way. No matter the age of the child, I. Hate. That. Phrase. I hate the idea that you are telling your child that they owe you anything. That child didn’t decide themselves to be born. That child didn’t choose to be adopted. That child didn’t decide to come into this chaotic world. We chose it for them. Every parent chose this life for them.
Some parents try for years to have kids. Some parents wake up one morning to a delightful surprise. Some parents wake up to a devastating surprise. At the end of the day though, if you chose to have your child, that was 100% on you. You chose to have them and raise them. You chose to create that life. You chose to not get an abortion. You chose not to place that child for adoption. You chose to raise a human. You. Not them.
Please, let me be clear. I fully know and get that parents sacrifice everything for their kids. Their bodies, their sanity, their finances, their freedoms, and sometimes just themselves overall. I was texting with a friend the other day and said I had the terrifying realization that I am going to be someone’s mom forever. Like, forever. Her response, “Forever. It’s overwhelming.” We do everything for our little ankle bitters. We stay up countless nights, clean up poopy diapers, become well versed in basic triage, become children psychologists, become a taxi service, and do a thankless job. It’s so easy to see why we think our kids owe us something. The truth is, they don’t.
I’ve heard this said to kids for years and years. I think it’s not so much a parent truly thinking that the child owes them for everything in their life and they should give their parents whatever they want for that. It’s more of a recognition of appreciation that comes into play. Again though, that’s on us as parents. I actually heard a mom ask her daughter for the earrings she was wearing. When the daughter said no the mother actually said, “But I gave birth to you. You owe me.” What a horrible way to make that child feel guilty and make a jab at them in the same breath. You pretty much just told another human that anything they have belongs to you because you chose to have them and raise them. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I think that you earn the title of parent. I’ve taken care of too many kids and seen too many college kids or adults that have parents who didn’t deserve the title. Kids who were abused mentally, emotionally, or physically. College kids crying in my room (I was an RA for three years) because their parents just yelled at them on the phone about getting a C on a test. Adults overworking at everything to prove to their parents that they are worth something. Of course these are worse case scenarios. The best of the best parents can easily think, “How can you treat me this way? I raised you. You owe me.” Think it don’t speak it. And really is the reasoning, “You could have it so much worse. I could have been an awful parent.” really a reason at all?
The huge downside to speaking it, is that your child will one day grow into an adult. I’m already dreading that day and she’s negative one month old. I can’t. Sadly, my little Monkey will be an adult someday. I want her to look at me and Tim and think, “They gave up so much for me. They’ve loved me unconditionally. They did everything they could for me. I owe them so much.” because, in my opinion, that kind of owing is so much more rewarding than a forced owing. My parents did so much for me and my sister. I wish I could buy them a beautiful house and take care of them forever for what they did for me. Right now I’m giving them a granddaughter and hoping that’s good for a while. They’ve never said I owe them anything, but some days I realize that I do owe them so much. I hope that some day Tim and I will be that for Eva.