Checked In or Checked Out?

August 20, 2009 at 1:04 pm | Posted in General Junk, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the responsibility of parents.  I don’t think I completely understood, or currently understand, the complexity of what it means to be a parent.  To be on call 24/7 regardless of age.  My mom is pretty much still the first person I want to call in a crisis and if she isn’t available then I call my older sister.  You have to be a mentor, a role model, a friend, a confidant, an enforcer, a cheerleader, an advocate, a protector.  All the time.  Until you die or become incapacitated to the point where the roles reverse and the child becomes the parent.  

There are times when I just don’t want to be the parent anymore.  I don’t want the responsibility of two small lives bearing their weight on my shoulders.  I want to get silly drunk and sleep until noon.  I want to slowly shop the mall and catch a movie or dinner with friends…without having to check-in to make sure someone can watch the kids.  But then that would mean I never had my kids.  And that I really cannot imagine.  I think of Henry’s birth parents in Korea and hope they have come forward to claim the letters and pictures I have sent since he came to live with us.  I hope they feel peace and comfort knowing that he is well and happy and loved.  I think of the miracle that is Sophie and how blessed we are to have her with us.

And now I think about the parents who do just quit their kids.  Maybe they cannot help it.  Maybe they can on some level but just don’t want the burden of responsibility anymore.  I’m sure there are a million situations and a million reasons why parents quit their kids.   My 15 year old niece is living with us because basically her parents have quit on her.  Not because she is trouble. She is an honor student.  She is an athlete.   She is kind and courteous and caring.  She has seen a lot of bad stuff in her 15 years and yet she has a drive and a desire to succeed that most people lack.  But her parents have quit on her.  They have decided that parenting just isn’t their thing right now…well, and honestly some of it is beyond them at this point due to serious personal circumstances.  But don’t we all have personal circumstances that, at times, makes it difficult to parent but how do you just quit your kids?  I can see quitting a spouse because they are adults and can fend for themselves but quitting a kid? 

So now I am parenting a 3 year old, a 6 year old and a 15 year old that I don’t know.   And I find myself absolutely lost, confused and furious that her parents have been allowed to check out on their daughter and leave her to live on her own.  I have to negotiate and navigate a course unknown to me on how to parent a child that belongs to someone else.  And to just let them check out.

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