How I Became the Easy Parent

by Bill Brenner on June 6, 2010

Here’s a side of my recovery that the kids enjoy: I’m more of a push-over than I used to be.

Mood music for this post: “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” by The Runaways:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RTipAZuMRI&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

Back when my OCD was out of control, I craved order. When you have kids, order is impossible.

I was very big on sticking to routines. Brushing teeth and getting in pajamas by 6:30. Bed by 7:30. If it went later than that, I freaked out. That was my time to collapse on the couch in front of the TV.

I’m not sure when this stopped being important to me, but it did. Maybe it’s the Prozac. Maybe it’s the mental coping tools I use. Whatever the case, the chances of my kids running wild and burning the house down are greater than they were, say, six years ago.

I knew I had reached a turning point a couple years ago when one of the kids’ friends, Wolfgang, slept over. Right at the time they were supposed to be in bed, I dozed off on Sean’s bed while the three kids ran up and down the stairs chanting like Indians. I woke up an hour later to find them doing the same thing they were doing when I nodded off.

Then there was the time Sam and Grace White came over for a couple hours. I had to give Sam a time-out on the couch for reasons I can’t remember. I forgot about him and 20 minutes later he was staring at me with his lopsided grin.

“What?” I asked.

“Mr. Brenner (pronounced Bwenna),” Sam said. “Can I get up now?”

I used to panic when I had to get the kids ready for school and drive them there. It always came down to how I’d do my work and that, too.

Now it’s no big deal.

Go figure.

I think part of this is that my concept of rest and relaxation have changed. Having rigid control over what the kids do and when they do it is no longer as important as it used to be. I’m just happy to be spending time with them and just being together.

It’s one of the strange things that happened to me on the way to recovery: I started finding peace and relaxation in the very things that used to fill me with fear and spark anxiety attacks. [SeeFear Factor] Not the kid duties, but everything else in life that made me want to rush the kids to bed so I could enter my mental coma.

It used to be that relaxing meant holing myself up in the bedroom watching endless episodes of Star Trek. I watched a lot of the news, too, which instead of relaxing me would send my brain into an endless spin of worry about things happening at the far corners of the world.

Lying on the couch all weekend ā€” sleeping for a lot of it ā€” was relaxation.

Then Sunday night would arrive and Iā€™d go into a deep depression about the tasks that awaited me the next day at work.

Before Sean and Duncan, the above was pretty much all I ever did.

Now the idea of doing nothing — even when I can — is repulsive to me.

I didn’t spend all that time on recovery so I could go lie on the couch. And besides, there’s never anything good on TV, anyway.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Erin Brenner January 20, 2011 at 4:23 am

I hate to break it to you, but while all of this is true, you have always been the easy parent. The kids know you’re the pushover.

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