Doing our Best

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“Dude, I’m so much better a father than you are.”

Ever catch yourself saying that in your head? Is it usually when you’re out and about and see some dad doing something that you would never in a million years do to your kids?

I gotta admit that I do this a good bit. I know, I know…it’s egotistical, it’s obnoxious, and worst of all, it’s probably not even true.

What I have to remind myself, is that I have no idea of the events leading up to the moment I just witnessed. That dad might be a single father struggling to hold down a job and keep his kids happy and well fed. Or, maybe the kids have just been real bastards for the last hour and a half and what I witnessed was his last straw after an hour and a half of patience and honest-to-goodness trying.

As an example, at a recent gathering of the in-laws, my BIL brought his daughter over without his wife. He walked into the house (he’s also an in-law), grabbed one of the hamburgers I had made especially for MY family (everyone else was having Pork Loin…on Memorial Day!) and sat down and started to eat without hardly a word of greeting to anyone. Then, when everyone was finished, while I was off watching my two boys destroy the house, along with his 3-year old daughter, he sat there at the table as if she didn’t exist, letting others take care of his kid for him.

At the time, I was pretty darn ticked. The NERVE of him coming over and doing that.

But then later, I had to remind myself that his wife is at home, overdue pregnant and she is no easy person to live with (by my standards) under normal circumstances. Just recently, she “made” him check the family into a local hotel the other night because she was “just over waiting on this baby” and they all needed a change of scenery. This also means he’s doing the lion’s share of everything around the house, including taking care of their daughter. So maybe I can’t begrudge him a little downtime and thoughtless feasting.

But I think it’s healthy to compare ourselves to others sometimes. If we’re really being honest, it can lead to improvements in our own day-to-day. And just as I have to cut other guys some slack, I try and do the same for myself. I’m not perfect—heck, I’m not even “pretty darn good.” I’m just me and I’m doing the best I can while juggling flaming swords and cantaloupes.

Be safe on the road this summer gents, and have fun!

(NOTE TO ALL: I will be suffering, having a blast with the family at the beach this week. Might drag the old laptop along, but dunno if I’ll have time for any posts. Don’t stop reading. Check back often. I’ll update when I can!)

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4 thoughts on “Doing our Best

    birdpress said:
    June 1, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    “What I have to remind myself, is that I have no idea of the events leading up to the moment I just witnessed.”

    I try to remember that whenever I see anyone acting ridiculous. You just never know. It’s hard to keep that in mind all the time though. Thanks for the reminder.

    Not to give you a big head or anything, but from what I know of you and have heard and read about and from you, I think you are a very GOOD father.

    romi41 said:
    June 2, 2008 at 12:47 am

    Hope you have a great vacation, and you’re so right, being self-aware is never a bad thing, and a lot of times it involves the comparison-component…better than being oblivious to your own/other’s actions! 😉

    DeeDee said:
    June 2, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    I find it hard myself to not be quick to judge when I see things like that transpire but then again there really are some people out there that just need a good swift kick in the nads to make them realize they are being a douche of a parent regardless of what’s going on around them. The least he could have done was made some small talk and explained that he was about to lose his damned mind or something. Otherwise he just came across as a real asshat.

    Re: Yeah, the more I think about it (and the more I ruminate on the fact that he supported his wife in getting a V-back when only one doctor in the whole friggin city of Atlanta would do it, AND when their baby has subsequenly had multiple problems), the more I want to just call him an asshat too!

    Allison said:
    June 8, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    I can definitely see this from both sides. I definitely recognize poor parenting, knowing at the same time that I am not completely immune to mommy dearest moments…take this last week for example. We had a very fun beach vacation…but being a working parent, I am not accustomed by being with my almost 3-yr old 24/7. That coupled with several tantrums in sweltering heat didn’t always bring out the best in me. Also, it’s very hard to find good time-out spots in public spaces and houses filled with gazillions of family members. The car is not on option in SC heat. My sisters-in-law sensed my exasperation several times and stepped in to help. One of my SIL’s even gave her a time-out for me in a restaurant restoom….as she carried her away, we heard SIL say, “I’ll find a place you don’t like.” That made me laugh hysterically. How awful is that? Oh, and did I mention the public beach spanking? Not one of my better moments. I’m not opposed to spankings per se, but that isn’t my preferred method of discipline. Not one of my finer moments.

    Anyway, I feel like I’m babbling now. Back to your story, I would have been extremely irritated about the hamburger situation (don’t mess with my food) and pretty annoyed about the unsupervised child, but the unassisted parenting thing could be a mitigating circumstance.

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