Our take: In this piece from The Atlantic, editor and father Noah Berlatsky acknowledges that while ensuring their children's happiness is the goal of all involved parents, being endlessly enthusiastic and attentive doesn't come naturally for many people. Berlatsky's piece is an encouraging, worthwhile read not because he justifies parental laziness but because reflecting on his own inadequacies has allowed him to recognize his son's ability to love him despite his shortcomings.
"My parents are lazy!" my nine-year-old son exclaimed loud enough to wake lazy parents in a neighboring state. Luckily, there weren't any other adults around. Just me, and three of my son's friends who I was carpooling back from school. They had all been talking about how much fun they had camping out with their families, so my son was explaining why he didn't get to go camping with his family. And, like he said, it's because his parents don't want to pack up and get in the car and go out and lie on the cold ground somewhere in the middle of nowhere so we can get up at some ungodly hour and be uncomfortable. Which is because we are lazy.
In theory, of course, parents are not supposed to be lazy. We are supposed to sacrifice for the children and wake up at ungodly hours and camp in the rain if that will optimize our child's happiness quotient. We're supposed to cook healthy meals at least once a fortnight and clean at least occasionally so that when our friend's infant comes over he can't gorge himself on the ominous cat-sized dust bunnies rolling like tumbleweeds of filth amid the drifts of shoes-missing-their-pairs and half-broken down cardboard boxes. Emily Matchar assures me that parenting is all about expressing my individuality and self-actualizing through homeschooling or attachment parenting. And, hey, our son still occasionally comes to sleep with us because we are too lazy to toss him out of bed at 4 a.m. after we've watched the first half of Return of the King with all the ghosts and blood and death and thus given him nightmares which we knew we shouldn't have done but then we kind of wanted to so we did it anyway. I don't know. Maybe that counts as fulfilling ourselves.
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