Parents are weird.
Parents do things that are illogical, nuts, and in direct opposition to their own self-interest. Anyone who didn’t know that someone was a parent would really be scratching their head over some of the things that the person does.
Parents short themselves on sleep to make sure their child is getting enough. Then they turn around and attempt to function normally on two hours sleep. It’s one thing when people stay up until the wee hours doing something to entertain themselves, like clubbing or playing video games. But to sacrifice sleep solely for the benefit of someone else? That’s a little weird.
Parent voluntarily deal with really, really gross things. When their child starts retching, parents stick out their hand underneath the child’s chin, and do so almost reflexively. Parents deal with blown-out diapers and then talk about the experience over breakfast. They post about someone else’s toilet habits all over the internet. That’s not just weird, that crosses the line into off-putting.
Parents sit back when their child gets frustrated with a toy, rather than reaching over to give them a hand, and then claim it’s because frustration can actually help teach that some things don’t work on the first try, or that it encourages creative problem solving. That doesn’t seem weird, that almost seems mean.
Parents pin down a scared child as the doctor washes out the gash on the child’s forehead. They don’t offer hugs and kisses, but rather, allow the torture and even actively participate. Sure, the parents may have a few tears in their eyes, but when the child starts wiggling, the parents wrap them even tighter. That’s weird and bordering on cruel.
Parents change sheets and do laundry at 2 a.m. after their child has had a bloody nose or upset stomach. And if there aren’t enough clean sheets, parents build a bed on the floor and sleep next to the sick child. Slavish devotion like that certainly raises a few eyebrows. That’s pretty weird.
Parents drive all over town to find that stuffed zebra or other can’t-live-without toy, and then smile through clenched teeth as their child tosses it aside for the box that it came in. Weird? Try co-dependant.
Parents tell their child not to retaliate when provoked physically or emotionally, even as the parent themself is ready to drive across town and make things even. They deny the child the satisfaction of getting revenge for whatever way in which they’ve been wronged, instead encouraging the child to Just Let It Go. It’s weird, and even a little hypocritical.
Parents bite their tongues when their child makes bad relationship choices, and instead welcome the undesirable significant other. When it falls apart, they outwardly offer consolation and comfort, while inwardly cheering. Not just weird, but also two-faced.
Some parents even give up their own successful careers when faced with an unexpected pregnancy. They walk away from salaries and promotions and spend the next several years wiping drool and runny noses. They know that being out of the work world means they’ll have to re-learn processes and technology when (if) they return to their career track. Anyone else who did this would be branded off their rocker, not just weird.
Why? The Hallmark answer is that parents do it out of love for their child, and yes, that’s part of it. But the practical, underlying answer is that someone’s got to do it. A baby can’t change its own diaper. Soiled sheets don’t wash themselves. Someone’s got to cook the dinner and clean up the messes. Children need to be taught how to interact with society.
We are weird. We are crazy. We are nonsensical. Because there are things must be done, and no one else to do them.