Monday, July 30, 2012

I Don't Hate My Family

I have a confession to make. It’s something that’s not easy to say, but it’s been on my mind for a while. I’ve hesitated because I don’t want to become a pariah wandering aimlessly in the blogosphere, but I simply have to get it off my chest.

I don’t hate my wife or kid.  

Why is this hard to admit, you might ask? You might think that not hating your family should go without saying. Or at least that’s what I always assumed. But it seemingly goes against what I read from a surprising number of parenting writers on the web on a very regular basis.

There are thousands of amateur and professional parenting writers/bloggers floating around the Internet. I believe each is entitled to express their own opinion in their forum, just as I do. But I don’t agree with what a shocking number of them actually write.

These parents may not flat-out admit their distaste for what you’d expect would be their “loved ones”, but it is a common theme that I’ve read more times than I care to admit.  And it infuriates me every time.  Just to be clear, most people don’t come out and directly say “I hate my daughter” or “my husband is an idiot”, though I have seen both of those statements written on several occasions. It’s usually an off-hand remark about what a pain their spouse/kids/stepkids/siblings/parents are, and more often than not, it’s followed up by a comment about “needing wine”. I’m not a wine drinker, but on the rare occasions that I have had a glass, I know that the only thing it usually does for me is cause drowsiness.  That has yet to help me parent better, so maybe I am not doing it correctly?

I’ve noticed this trend for a while, but it was when I saw this Tweet a few weeks ago that I really became disturbed:

I sent this reply to the Tweet and here’s the response I received:

That may be true. I’m not in her specific position so I don’t know. I do know how challenging parenting one active 2 ½ year old can be and that the only substance I usually rely on is caffeine to help keep me going long enough to finish everything I need to do for him, myself, my wife and our home.

Raising kids isn’t easy. Neither is marriage. I don’t think they are supposed to be. There are built-in surprises and trapdoors to keep you on your toes as you traverse the path of life.  Believe me, I speak from firsthand experience.  If I had any more unexpected plot twists in my life over the last five years, you might think that my story was an episode of LOST.  

If you “Like” me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I joke around. A lot. The things I usually joke about are funny/annoying/strange things that happen to me and/or my family. They are usually tinged with obvious sarcasm.  Whatever they are, I always take into account how my wife or son would feel if they read them.

On the long list of hats I wear, long before I’m a writer, I’m a father and a husband. And though I may kid about the annoying and frustrating things that happen in life, like how the Little Dude recently started waking up an hour earlier every day and I’m beyond exhausted from it, I don’t think anything I write is overtly mean-spirited toward him. Sure, I’d love to sleep in more. Who wouldn’t? (Beside him, obviously.) But that’s what parenting is, sacrificing for the betterment of our families. If you aren’t interested, don’t sign up. But when I read that someone (or a lot of people) publically berating their family or is driven to drinking by the challenges of parenting, it makes me sad. Sad for them. And sad for the child. 


    i know a lot of people talk about needing wine as a joke, but like you said- it happens SO often it's friggin annoying. i mean what IF their partner/child read? rude. and sad.

  2. Beautiful post and I couldn't agree more! I do enjoy my wine and sometimes say I *need* a glass (which really isn't true) but it's never in response to something about my family. Last time it was in response to being worn out by being in the "yeah write" rabbit hole. And since Erica and her team all soak in a bathtub full of gin I figured they'd not take it personally (plus it was about *me* getting sucked in to the point of ignoring chores, not *them.*).

  3. I LOVE a good glass of wine! AFTER the kids are in bed! Sometimes it sounds like people are drinking 'on the job,' and in my mind that's cause for concern.

    I adore my family. I would die without them, I really think I would. However: Are there frequent days when, at 6pm I start the count-down til 8pm (when the kids go to bed and the house finally quiets)? Errrr...... Yes, yes there are.

    Nevertheless. You sir, make an excellent point.

  4. I see where you're coming from. Parenting and marriage are hard and constantly writing mean spirited stuff about how put upon you are and how awful your partner and children are can get old. I enjoy your blog and respect what you've got to say.

    That being said, I have to disagree with some of what you're saying. I've tweeted virtually the same things about "needing a glass of wine" many a time but this in no way means I don't 'get' that parenting is about sacrificing for the betterment of our families or I think marriage and parenting are supposed to be easy nor does it mean that I'm irresponsible with alcohol especially around my kid.

    Parenting and marriage *is* a hard gig (as it should be) and I give it my all so sometimes I need to blow off a little steam or have some 'me' time to recharge my batteries. For me that means, among other things, pouring myself a nice glass of wine after my day is done and watching a TV show that is the polar opposite of Barney. Shiraz and Game of Thrones may not be how you unwind at the end of your day and that's totally fine. More power to you.

    But I don't think it's necessarily accurate or kind to play the "I feel sad for your kids" card when someone tweets about "needing wine" because of tantrums or marital tension or whatnot. More often than not they're trying to humorously tell you that they've had a stressful day and need to recharge before (willingly and happily) tackling the next day in the roller coaster that is responsible parenting.

  5. I gotta say, if someone says that they "need" some sort of mind-altering thing, then what they really need is something else. Maybe it's therapy. Maybe it's a better game-plan as a parent. Maybe it's just a sit-down with their spouse to re-arrange schedules. But the whole "I NEED TO DRINK" thing is juvenile. It's what college kids say when doing homework becomes too much. As adults, you're supposed to have better tools for coping. And you're supposed to think that kind of thing through before getting married and having a kid. And sure - it's not terribly bad to want or have a little escape by drinking. I'm not against drinking once the kids are in bed. But getting onto Twitter or Facebook and advertising that you can't cope is super weak.

    It might be a little far to equate tweeting about drinking to hating their family. It's probably more of the person looking for that peer validation, much like the high schooler that comes to school on Monday saying "man, I got so drunk at a party Friday that I don't know what happened." He's looking for his friends to laugh and say "oh man, that's great!" Same thing with the people advertising that their families drive them to drink; they're really saying "Someone accept me!"

    I have no nicely-tied-up ending for this, so I'll just stop.

  6. I might be on the other end of this, but here goes:

    1. She didn't say she was drinking while her kids were awake. Maybe all she meant was that having some wine AFTER they were asleep helped her mood. Or maybe she was just joking. Either way, at least she wasn't giving her KIDS the wine.

    2. I write a pretty sarcastic and snarky blog. Every once in a while, especially after writing a post with a title like "Top 10 Reasons Why I Hate My Son (," I catch some flack from some people. Recently someone objected to the fact that my son might one day see that post and that it would be hurtful.

    Well, I know my son, and by the time he can read, he'll know me, and he'll know my sense of humor, and beyond that, he'll hopefully READ THE WHOLE POST and not just the title and any illusions he might have about me hating him will evaporate.

    Despite what I may say on Twitter or joke about in a blog post, I don't hate my family. And the only people I worry about thinking that I might are my actual family. I don't care what the rest of the world thinks (so long as it's not the Department of Social Services). What I write on my blog (in character) or on Twitter (in character) is often FAR different from what I say and do in real life. And that's really all that matters.

    So I tend to cut people some slack, especially people I only know via Twitter or Facebook or a blog that has an obvious angle. I bitch a lot about the superficial stuff that is annoying about being a dad and a husband, but who cares? My family knows where they stand.

    Frankly I think it's a bit of a waste of time to worry about other people's tweets and etc. To jump to the conclusion that bitching or venting or joking (whether it's your kind of joke or not) equates to hate is pretty extreme, and very much based on your own point of view.

    I have a pretty extreme sense of humor, and while I say some harsh things, I think it's usually pretty clear that I'm being facetious. And when the time comes that it's not clear to my wife or kid, I'll explain myself. I don't really think I need to explain myself to anyone else.

  7. I know I say things like this, but they are all in jest. I love my family more than anything I've ever known. They make me laugh and smile. There are days I want to run away and just be alone. I cope with this feeling by joking about it. As they say, laughter is the best medicine.

  8. I never drink in front of my kids. my choice. I joke about needinga drink. I live with 4 women. I dont think women bloggers posts about wine/booze are offensive. people need outlets to vent. I love my family. my wife is my best friend. i think my 3 kids - 16, almost 9, almost 8, are amazing. but , come on. 4 women. big family. everyone;s loud. you need the thirst for beer.

    good post