A Wall Street Journal article “Parents just want to have fun,” an excerpt from a book by Dave Barry “Live Right and Find Happiness (although beer is much faster)” discusses the change in parenting over the past two generations. The article really struck a chord for me. With humor, the article points out how the past generation of parents (the baby boomers) had room in their lives to be good workers, good citizens, and good parents and still have time for fun. He points out how that shaped the society. There was less stress, less depression, less divorce. People worked hard to do better than their parents and teach their children good values. But, they partied. They socialized. They had fun.
When I reflect on my adult life, I had fun in college but immediately started hard work to get ahead and achieve what I now know is the elusive concept of success and happiness. Since age 20, I have been working for a better tomorrow.
The article describes how parenting has become more than a full time job. What used to be school sports, afterschool activities and community groups has given way to private lessons, travel teams and an endless schedule of things you must do to give your children the best chance at life, or at least not to be the kid whose parents aren’t involved. I remember what it was like to want to fit in and to be curious and want to try all sorts of things. Hey, I am who I am today because my parents gave me so many experiences. My mom worked a part time job and I now am sure the only use of her paycheck was a supplement to pay for our school activities. As a parent of three wonderful children, I now understand how much time and money it took for us to participate in band, sports, and school trips to Washington DC, Boston and England.
But I also remember my parents making time to do things with friends and take family vacations. There were 2 weeks each year we stayed with grandma in the Adirondacks so they could do something as a couple. I remember feeling cheated at times, but as an adult, I now understand how valuable it is to recharge once in a while. My parents often took a family vacation and a separate vacation with friends. As a child, I thought this was odd. Why would Mom vacation with her friends without Dad and vice versa? As an adult, I know how important time apart can be and how you need to spend time doing things you enjoy and it is okay that they didn’t always like the same things.
The article made me realize that my parents had something right. My husband always criticizes me for not having a hobby. Who has time? Maybe he has a point.
This year I’ll be looking for some opportunities to party a bit and not feel guilty or self-indulgent, rather realize I am teaching my children a valuable lesson about life. I’m far from the perfect parent but I hope I can be a good role model. Spending some time parting (socializing) is probably a good therapeutic approach to stress, anxiety and depression. If it will make me a better spouse and parent, worth a try, huh?