Saturday, March 7, 2009

Memo to Daddy & Papa

The poorly named Parents Magazine had a full page article called "Memo to Mommy."
We got a free subscription when Anna was born, and we stuck with it as it was cheap and every once in awhile they will provide some good information or recipes. The magazine is otherwise a joke as it tends to focus on MOMS only… men are dragged out in June for Father’s Day and then tucked away for the rest of the year. One issue had full bodied pics of the Moms, but the Dads were actually headless in the photo shoot.

The magazine should be renamed Female Parent, and not Parents.

The editorial board apparently thinks its okay to present Dads as an absent class as their articles and photos. I have discussed this on several parenting blogs and forums and everyone agrees with my observation. But, the article by Mary Mohler in the September 2008 issue hung on our fridge with Mommy crossed out and Daddy & Papa scribbled in over the gyno-focused title. Mohler’s article offered a few chestnuts of wisdom, much of what we already knew. Some of them took some readjustment:

1. Stop freaking out about the mess!
As I tend to be a pretty neat person and have a manic dislike for clutter. As I type, I am sitting in the attic surrounded by the three days worth of playtime with Anna. Puzzle pieces and doll clothes are tossed about, as well as several other ankle breaking toys.
I have learned to sigh, shake my head and walk on.

2. Let me do it!
I read this and a mental image of Stuart from Mad TV pops up in my head. Sure, it’s easy to try and enforce, but when you’re trying to get out the door in the morning, sometimes you just have to do it yourself. But, when you calm down and realize that much of a toddler’s life is a teachable moment, you have to let them do their will, even if it means you’ll be late.

Some of them were obvious:
3. Don’t let me think you’re perfect
Uh, that’s an easy one Mary, please, if a kid has eyes, they will know that their parents are far from perfect. We just need to remember that we are ALWAYS on stage and being studied intently by our little charged.
4. Love me, even when I am naughty. I will only be this age once.
It seems that just a few moments ago I woke up and was a father. Now I am enrolling her in preschool and fretting about how to pay for her schooling. I have to shake my head each day, as she grows and grows and is quickly becoming a young girl headed towards school. I recently found out that one of my former students killed herself this past weekend. Her Moms did a great job at her funeral, true heroes in my book. But they stressed that time is indeed a gift.

And the last one that I would like to focus on is:
5. Keep your promises. It’s about trust. When I am a teenager, you’ll understand why it is important.
Everything Tod and I say to Anna is a promise. She will hear much in her life, but the words from a parent are always the words that mean the most, especially when the child is her age. Tod and I endeavor to keep our promises, but sometimes we say things just to get out the door. As our daycare provider states “Whatever it takes!” is sometimes the route to go when your kid wants to wear their Princess outfit to the store, or is refusing to put on their boots, etc.
I will always stand behind my words, but sometimes life gets in the way. “Can we go to the park today?” “Oh sure honey… after work.” But then the day goes south, plans get derailed and the last thing you want to do is go to a park (or library, store, etc)… but how do you break a promise?

It’s not easy.

But one promise I made and I take very seriously. Some people are parents by accident, others, such as Tod and I had to go quite far to make parenthood a reality. I will always be Anna Laura’s parent, as I promised the court, and I will always do my best to work to that end and provide for her the best I can. I will be there to listen, I will be there to play, I will be there to talk, I will be there to read stories, I will be there to hold her hand when she’s scared, I will be there to kiss her goodnight, and most of all, I will be the bestest Papa she ever has.

Promises are for keeping.

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