March's Honest Parent: Aaron Greer
My greatest parenting strength is: affection.
My greatest parenting weakness is: impatience.
What do you wish someone had told you before you became a parent?
To do it a bit younger (say early 30s). Two things I hadn’t considered about waiting to my late 30s 1) the age and energy level of the grandparents and 2) my “post-kid” age and energy level. That said, I did enjoy the years I had with my wife pre-kids and I wouldn’t want to have forfeited that. Also, I REALLY wish someone had warned me about having two kids close in age. No one really tells you how hard it is to have a toddler and infant at the same time. It’s miserable!!! There’s nothing good about having to deal with the terrible twos (and threes) and sleep deprivation at the same time. Even though it’s a fairly common for people to have kids 2-3 years apart, no one talks about how horrible it is during the early years (supposedly it gets better once they are old enough to really play together). There’s like some kind of code of silence amongst parents. I can’t tell you how many people have said to me, too late of course, “oh yeah, doesn’t it suck. Almost ruined my marriage.” I’m always like, “why didn’t you tell me that sh*t before?!”
How often do you compare yourself to what you think other parents are doing or what you "should" be doing?I try not to compare myself to other parents, but it’s hard… You also constantly compare your children’s progress to others. So there’s a lot of comparing notes with other parents about where their kids are at developmentally. And it starts almost immediately… “so, can your kid hold her neck up yet?... is your kid sitting up yet?... wow, are they already potty trained?”
Describe your worst moment as a parent.
I’ve never hit my kids and I never would, but about 2 times a week I have to resist the urge to drop-kick them, my son in particular. Once when I was extremely frustrated and angry with him I went through the motions of throwing a big, hardcover book at him. I didn’t intend to actually throw the book, I just was fake throwing it (like pump-faking a football), but I did it with such force that the book slipped from my hand and almost hit the kid in the head. He turned around and said, “What was that, Daddy?” I felt immediately guilty and like I dodged a bullet, cause it would have really hurt him if it had made contact. Needless to say, I don’t do that anymore. Now I just fake cuss him out (or give him the finger) behind his back.
Is there one thing you give yourself a pass on?
We try to limit the kids “screen time” and avoid watching TV ourselves during their awake time, BUT, I make an exception during football season and generally watch at least one whole game a week. It’s kind of agreed (begrudgingly by my wife) that I get a “pass” on football Sundays and can have the TV on for long periods of time (3+ hours). I do have to frequently sensor, via the pause button, the commercials though.
How many hours out of each day do you feel like you’re being a good parent?
Frankly, I feel like I’m doing a pretty good job most of the day… That said, as the day wears on and my patience (and energy) wears thinner, I definitely get less good.
How has having kid/s affected your sex life?
What sex life? Small kids are the biggest cock blockers ever. Nature’s way, I guess, of trying to help you avoid having more small kids. In our case, the chances that both kids are asleep at the same time AND we both have time AND we both have energy are super slim. Plus, it’s hard to feel sexy and romantic when you’re tired, and/or covered in boogies and spit-up, and/or haven’t bathed yourself properly in 24 hours. My kids seem to have some sixth sense about when adult fun is happening and will inevitably wake up and start fussing. You have to be super-focused to knock boots to a serenade of crying babies.
How have you grown as a person since becoming a parent?
I’ve become a bit more assertive. I’ve become a bit more patient with kids and less patient with adults. I consider my increased silliness, or ability to be silly, as a sort of personal growth too.
If someone gave you a letter grade for your current parenting, what would it be?
B+. I feel like I’m generally doing a good job, but I’m not going to win parent of the year. I spend a ton of time with my kids, way more than most full-time working parents, about which I feel lucky and, frankly, a bit sanctimonious (if that’s the right word). I feel like the fact that I spend soooo much time with them covers up for some of my other parenting weaknesses.
Do you really feel like you are doing the best you can? Could you do better? How? What keeps you from doing better?
The only thing I feel like I could do better is with making my life, and theirs, a bit more organized or scheduled. A lot of people say that having kids really focuses you and makes you better about organizing your time. I haven’t found that quite to be the case. At least yet. Also, for better or worse, I have pretty much avoided reading any books or articles about parenting or child-development. Part of it is stubbornness, part of it is laziness, and part of it is because I know my wife will have it covered (kind of like not washing a dish if you know someone else will).
What quality in yourself do you fear is most likely to lead to failure as a parent?
Impatience. Also, I do like to have my alone time and can get into selfish, leave me alone, kind of spaces.
When it comes to parenting, I would rather not admit: that I wish I wasn’t one sometimes.
Based on what you see in your child right now, what is your worst fear about him/her as an adult?
My daughter is a little too young to be worried about the personality stuff, but (and I feel horrible about this), I’m already a bit worried about the physical and body image stuff with her. My son is a very “pretty,” skinny kid, and I’m a little scared that it will make life harder on [my daughter].
What would you have done last year if you didn’t have children?
Definitely would have traveled. Right now, all our traveling is to see family. It might be years ‘til we can travel again “for fun.” Would have gone out dancing. Would have gone to some parties. Would have seen some movies in the movie theater.
How do you think you're doing in comparison to your parents?
My mom was essentially a single-parent, so I marvel at how great she was under the circumstances; she was a waaaay better parent than I would be without help. So I guess I’d say, given the degree of difficulty, that she was a better parent than I am. My father, to this day, is reluctant to deal with small kids, so he’d be the first to say that I’m doing a much better job parenting my kids (at the age they’re at) than he did.
What’s your most brutally honest parenting advice?
Resist the temptation to constantly interact with, talk to, read to, play with and stimulate your kids; make sure your they have the ability to entertain themselves a bit.
Would you want to be raised by you?
For sure. I make great blueberry pancakes.
A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for sites like Pop Matters and
afterellen.com Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," was called “poetic and heartrending” by ALA Booklist. Sarah is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
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