On parenthood and giving different shits

I alluded to this topic briefly in a previous post, and you’ve probably forgotten about it, but I thought I’d still write about it just in case you haven’t. Plus I want to, and we do what we want around here (provided “what we want” doesn’t involve sleeping).

A few months ago, just before I had my first piece published on Scary Mommy (yep, I’m going to keep mentioning that. I’m pretty proud of myself. Also I’m trying to make myself feel better since they’ve rejected everything else I’ve sent them), Justin and I were lying in bed talking (ACTUALLY TALKING. Stop being a pervert.)

I told him I didn’t think I’d have submitted my writing anywhere, or even started writing, if it weren’t for the small one. “But now …”

“… now you just don’t give a shit?”

“No, that’s not it. I think it’s that I give more of one. Only, not in the same way as I used to.”

“So … you give different shits.”

At that point I dissolved into giggles, because in reality I’m an 8-year-old boy, and the idea of different shits hit me in just such a way that it was the most hilarious thing in the world. And Justin laughed too, because he’s 5 years younger than me, which means he’s 3 and I’m basically his big brother and now I’ve taken this metaphor way, waaaaay too far. And now I’m uncomfortable, and maybe so are you. Let’s move on.

The more I thought about it, though, it’s true. Not the part where Justin and I are brothers (gross), but the part about the shits. I do give different ones now.

People say having kids changes your priorities. That suddenly everything you used to care about stops being important, and all that matters is your precious offspring. That might be true for some people, but in my experience, it couldn’t be more wrong. Or, maybe not wrong, but … incomplete.

I care about all the same things, probably even the same amount, but in different ways. Or, as Justin so eloquently phrased it that night: I give different shits.

I don’t give a shit that someone might hear me singing badly in the shower and judge me for it. I give a shit about my daughter knowing it’s okay to express joy without inhibition. So I sing in the shower, the kitchen, the car, and sometimes even on the sidewalk. After nearly six years, my husband finally knows what my singing voice sounds like.

I don’t give a shit about my hair turning gray. I give a shit about the small one having a mother who’s comfortable in her own skin; growing up in a family (and if I can dare to dream, a society) where women don’t lose value or self-esteem as they age. So I’m letting my body show its age, and I’m doing my best to love what I see in the mirror.

I don’t give a shit about people seeing my thoughts and opinions as pedantic, overly sensitive, clumsily expressed or just plain wrong. I give a shit about putting myself out there, doing something I love, and trying despite (frequent) rejections. I give a shit about setting an example so my daughter will know these things are okay to do, and so she doesn’t wait 35 years to do them. So I write. And sometimes people like it.

It isn’t always easy; sometimes it’s even terrifying. But I can do all of it because of her. Because she’s made me brave enough to give the shits that matter, about the things that mattered to me all along.

They say so much of parenting is about shit. I know this isn’t really what they mean, but here it is anyway. Unexpected, amazing, and true.

I guess this is my own, disgusting version of “dance like no one’s watching.”

bookcase (2)
I don’t give a shit about my cookbooks staying in pristine condition. I do give a shit about pieces of them staying out of baby tracheas. Luckily, IKEA makes doors for these bookcases.


2 Comment

  1. Had a comment about a post you did on Facebook re: the way parents are conceding during meal times. I couldnt post there in worry my friend would notice. But I was visiting our friends a 1000 mi away and their five year old is ridiculous! He is glued to the iPad. We’re at dinner at a restaurant and he yells at all of us visiting at the table to keep it down because he was watching a movie. Incredulously, I said, “no, put that down and visit with us!” The dad kept telling the mom to take away the iPad. Really!? Take it away yourself. Then my friend tells him, two more bites (of Mac and chz, not even broccoli or something healthy) then he can touch his iPad again. Because he was not eating, rather playing on the Ipad. Of course this didn’t work. So I said, “can I see what you’re working on?” Because he had moved from watching a movie to drawing….he handed me the iPad and I said that’s nice, and set it down next to me On the chair and went about my meal. Then, he looked at me, shrugged and started eating. Was that too difficult for them? Take back your parenthood!! It’s just crazy. And thank you for letting me vent to you. Hahaha

    1. Wow, sounds like there was a lot going on there – from the deferred responsibility to the screen time issue to the discipline issue, etc… and it does sound like it was an easy fix, luckily!

      Incidentally, I recently implemented a “no screens at the table” rule (we don’t let the small one look at screens anyway, but we’re both glued to our phones more than either of us would like to admit so I thought it would probably be a good idea to pre-emptively ban them). We’ve each slipped up once or twice because we’re forgetful, but we’ve been policing one another so that’s helpful, haha.

      And you’re welcome to vent here anytime – 90% of my posts are vents in one way or another, so this is definitely the place to do it!

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