It is popular to vilify parents these days.
We’ve made it easy with our “helicoptering,” our “Earl Woodsing,” our blatant disregard for restaurant protocol, which – once upon a time – guaranteed that a 9:00 pm reservation at Chez Béarnaise would be absent the tantrumming toddler who’s refusing to eat his julienne vegetables, or the proudly exposed breast feeder just daring you to suggest she use the tablecloth for cover (a perfectly reasonable solution, mind you, if her vegetable-rejecting Monet wasn’t using it as his Crayola canvas).
Prior to my two contributions to global overpopulation, I, too, was cynical and intolerant of most things “parent.” I was particularly weary of this excruciating mantra: “Children are the best thing that will ever happen to you.”
But oh, how quickly things can change.
Call it cognitive dissonance, or a critical metamorphosis, but something happened to me when I reproduced. From that magical moment when I first heard my bundle of joy cry – filling my ears with the sweet serenade of a gutted velociraptor – years of hard-earned skepticism and contempt vanished in an instant.
With the arrival of my precious boiled chicken came a powerful force that purged all insight, rationality, and objectivity from my being. I had suddenly transformed into the very maniac whom I both mocked and feared throughout my pre-procreative existence.
Quicker than you can say “Unsubscribe,” I was posting the recklessly unabridged version of her newborn photo shoot on Facebook, believing my jaundiced little pantyhose doll was America’s Next Top Gerber Model. Followed by a play-by-play of her development with each poop, pound gained, and story of potty prowess, shared with pride because these accomplishments clearly indicated her future awesomeness.
Well, for starters, it’s a biological requirement, right? If we breeders believe we’ve begat the most exceptional specimens ever begotten, we’re much more likely to feed them, and nurture them, and force photographic evidence of them onto the rest of the world.
But there’s something far more powerful at work here – something you sleeping-until-noon, spontaneously-taking-off-for-a weekend, drinking-yourself-silly-without-fear-of-child-aggravated-hangovers, savoring-restaurant-meals-without-an-imminently-detonating-time-bomb-that-will-ruin-your-Pad-Thai-and-any-shot-at-dessert, non-dependent-having humans need to know:
Children are the best thing that will ever happen to you.