ERIN DONOVAN

Adventures in Abandonment Parenting

Posted Jan. 26, 2014, at 5:46 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 26, 2014, at 6:03 a.m.
Erin Donovan
Erin Donovan

Attachment Parenting wrinkles your clothes and afflicts you with scoliosis. Helicopter Parenting is tiresome, not to mention irritating to others at the playground. Co-parenting lives in a far away land with unicorns and men who like brunch. Authoritarian Parenting. Permissive Parenting. Democratic Parenting. Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Parenting. Old trends, people. These are the Ugg boots of parenting; You may pull them out on an ugly day, but you mustn’t admit to using them.

Each way is meant to sound unique and distinct from that which preceded it, but truly, they’re all the same because they’re all exhausting. Before I became a denizen of the land of Single Parenting, I was a prescriber of the only mode of parenting I really knew.

Abandonment.

The pillars of Abandonment Parenting are simple. The mother stays at home. The father works not just out of the home but out of the state. Extra Abandonment credits accrued for those who need a passport and a malaria vaccine before they punch in. The parents have more children than the nanny could fit in a naughty chair or a naughty 747. And it is winter. All year long.

The advantages to Abandonment Parenting are numerous. There’s the most obvious benefit of being the queen of your castle with power over your entire dominion. I employ the word queen loosely as there are absolutely no servants, spoils, armadas, crown or gowns. There are just court jesters who remain entertaining for five minutes before their ceaseless juggling of your royal stuff proves tiresome. As this so-called queen, you have the limitless power to decide whether children are entitled to meals and can fulfill that reward by tossing a baguette and a juice box in their direction, a much more expedient way to feed a family than using the stovetop or oven as your mate prefers. Clothing is entirely optional since pajamas are acceptable attire for reading “Everyone Poops” 45 times daily.

Rather than pander to your husband’s traditional dreams to see your son play baseball and your daughter play piano, permit them to dabble in more eclectic hobbies, such as archery and atom-bomb mixing. Clogging. Ventriloquism. Graffiti. Knife throwing. Lincoln-Douglas debate with imaginary friends named Cakey. Anything that occupies them long enough for you to urinate in private. Cleaning is deprioritized as his absence will allow you to recoup innumerable housekeeping hours from the drastic decrease in time spent searching for the remote.

The bedtime routine is simplified from its Rockwellian bubble bath and storytelling format to a group shower and a shared bed.

Lastly, and perhaps the greatest of all perks to Abandonment Parenting, is the position of reverence you will assume among other mothers in the community. They will regard you like an aid worker in a Calcutta orphanage, a peaceful missionary jailed in an Iranian prison. They will question, “Have you no needs?” No, you say piously, none at all. Particularly in the realm of personal hygiene. There is a dark side to this style of child rearing. When the bickering between siblings reaches mind-numbing levels that would have you cry out to your partner to intervene, you realize grimly that the only hairy role model in the house is an Elmo doll. His giggle does little to induce calm and, in fact, creates more havoc by embedding the nagging notion that Elmo seems to not possess a gender. When the nitrates from freezer food leave you sluggish and bloated, you will determine to cook a true meal that ends with a semi-thawed chicken on a platter while the children have escaped through a doggy door. The dog! You haven’t fed the dog in four days because she’s technically your husband’s responsibility.

As necessary utilities begin to malfunction and household maintenance goes unbothered with, you find yourself proposing matrimony to any man in possession of a power tool, whether his wife is standing there or not. You will attempt to pay for a cartload of groceries with a Dunkin’ Donuts gift card because you’ve run through the remains of the joint account. Inevitably, someone will fall dreadfully ill, requiring a family trip to the emergency room. You are woefully outnumbered and incapable of keeping them all from fondling staph-infected toys and licking the tiles of the waiting room floor. Not to mention the inferior medical care you’re sure to receive since the physician assumes you have no insurance between the number of children you’re handling alone, your unprompted declarations that you’re “doing the best you can raising these wildebeests,” and the observation that no one is wearing shoes.

After days of his absence, the kids will demand to see their father to which you shriek wildly, “He’s got a new family in Barbados now. They all wear madras and have natural highlights!” Just as the buzzards begin to circle and you’re drifting through the hallways in your wedding dress while staring vacantly at framed photos from your honeymoon, he will return. The kids rejoice. He offers gifts procured from airports. He tosses them to alarming heights. He pours chocolate milk in dramatic fashion.

He turns to you, taking stock of your wearied face and yellowed bridal gown, and says, “Have you seen the remote?”

 

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