Independence Day

On the 4th hour of “Today” on NBC several weeks ago, Kathie Lee told the writer of an article about the superiority of French parenting that it is “so important” that children be self-sufficient and play independently. Why is it “so important” and who says so?

A woman in the original article told her American friend that she works all day, and so evenings are her time. Adult time. She doesn’t want to spend HER time with the children. They need to be able to entertain themselves. I wonder when is the children’s time. Why have children if you don’t want to be around them?

I hear about the importance of independence all the time.

My three year-old is supposed to just leave me the hell alone. When she goes to bed, I’m supposed to close the door and walk away from her, ignoring her cries. She needs to learn to self soothe. She needs to learn, apparently, that the world is a scary, ugly place where she will not get her needs met. Mommy won’t always be there, so Mommy should start NEVER being there. As soon as possible. Some people say at four months, we should start “teaching” our babies to be alone by letting them cry in their cribs.

What will happen to her if she gets used to me holding her and stroking her hair and telling her audacious lies like “It’s going to be okay”? She won’t be ready! The world will beat her down. Or worse yet, she will be an “entitled brat.” That’s what I hear about children who are raised like I raise mine. They’re brats. They cry when they are sad, scared, mad, or disappointed. They need me and their father. They have not been trained to be compliant and “nice.” The last one is intentional by me. I don’t want my daughters to be nice. Bad guys prey on the nice.

My children are too young to be independent. They’ll be independent for decades. They’re supposed to be dependent now. It says so right on my taxes.

I’m the one who is supposed to be independent. I have to lead by example. It isn’t always easy. Fuck, it’s NEVER easy. I love being with my children. I rarely spend any time alone. Parents of older children and grown children tell me to enjoy it now. My  own father, who has a daughter in college as well as four grandchildren, told me as he admired the all-consuming love my baby showers on me: “It will never be like this ever again. She will never love you as much as she loves you right now.” He says it with a broken heart. He tells me how that Subaru commercial where the dad is giving the keys to a six year-old who suddenly turns into a 16 year-old breaks him every time. “I know it’s coming. I know that it will cut to her as an adult, but it still gets me and squeezes my guts. Every. Time.”

But I’m supposed to make them go away in the evenings, because that’s my time? My time to do what? What about these precious years that go by so fast? What about how you tell me “enjoy it”? What am I supposed to enjoy? Them playing alone in another room?

I would like more time to myself and alone with my husband. No doubt about it. Last weekend we visited with friends who have a daughter graduating from high school. They were in town for a wedding, looking forward to an evening of dancing, drinking, and spending the night together alone in a hotel. Odie and I were practically salivating with envy.

My good friend has a young daughter. No, wait. She just started her freshman year at our school. No! She just graduated! What? When the hell did that happen?

It’ll happen to us too. We’ll be handing over those keys and watching them drive away. Tonight, I’ll watch “The Lion King” again and cuddle them all night long.


About Mrs Odie

Friendly Pedant; Humble Genius
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15 Responses to Independence Day

  1. I love this. Not going to lie, I read it and set my computer down and went and snuggled up to my oldest and told stories and just enjoyed our one on one time sans the littlest chicklet. It was exactly what I needed to “hear” at the exact moment I needed it.

  2. Summer says:

    My kids love to play with each other and alone. They are self-sufficient, independent even with me cosleeping and extended nursing.

    Kathy Lee has always been a douche.

    • Mrs Odie 2 says:

      I love Kristen Wiig’s Kathie Lee. I also love how my kids are starting to enjoy each other’s company. I see glimpses.

      • Summer says:

        I saw it more often when the baby was 12 months old. Now at 11/2 and 31/2 they are great friends and entertain each other often.

  3. Rosie says:

    Even though my children are hairy, walk on four legs and don’t speak very clearly, I agree. What`s the use of having them if you`re NOT going to `spoil` them!

  4. Kristin says:

    Thank you so much for this. I do want an independent child who is self-sufficient at some point. But not right now. I love the middle of the night nursing sessions, nursing him to sleep and cuddles way too much. Even still, it’ll be over with the blink of an eye. I had goosebumps reading this.

  5. lifeincolors says:

    Kathie Lee won’t put down her bottle of booze long enough to ever snuggle with her kids. Go figure.

  6. Chelsea says:

    The same Kathie Lee who asked Martin Short about his wife, who had died two years earlier? She’s an idiot.

  7. I’m not sure the self-sufficiency and independence thing is as important as parents having some time (just something!) each day. There’s got to be a balance between ignoring your children (i.e. “A woman in the original article told her American friend that she works all day, and so evenings are her time.”) and feeling suffocated (i.e. feeling like shouting “LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE” as your last post shared). I work all day, so when I get home, I’m focused on them entirely. But they do go to sleep around 8:30 pm. That still leaves me that “adult time” referenced in the article on French parenting. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s my mental health that needs the “adult time” and not so much the kids who need to learn independence.

    • Melinda says:

      Well said!
      No parent should use “self-sufficiency” as an excuse to ignore their child, and it’s possible to have “adult time” without pretending it’s a way to teach kids “independence.”
      To be honest, I’m thankful my kids are asleep in their own beds by 8:00. My husband and I enjoy the opportunity to catch up.
      But more importantly, it gives me the chance to actually miss my boys. When morning comes, I can’t wait to get my 2 year old out of his crib and give him cuddles. And my 6 year old’s non-stop dinosaur tutorials are a treat.
      This way feels healthy for all of us.
      Probably should add that while I consider 8-7 my down time, I’ve never let my babies “cry it out”, and I always come now when they need something.
      Whatever works best for your family, it’s all about balance, every child is different, etc…

  8. Camille L. says:

    When you have an only child you know how important it is that they figure out how to entertain themselves. I’ve just realized how I don’t have a lot of time left. She’s 11 and I’ve left her alone too long! I need to ditch this iPad and do some arts and crafts with my girl, stat! This was a great piece. Your writing is such a treat. In honor of Kathie Lee, let’s have a toast–somebody get me a glass of chardonnay!

  9. kelly says:

    Parenting is a 24/7 privilege. Period. Luckily you realize that, and the bond that you are forming with your girls will be the stronger for it.

  10. Could not agree more. Great post.

  11. KrissyFair says:

    “They’re supposed to be dependent now. It says so right on my taxes.” I LOVE it!! I’ve said the same thing a bazillion times. They will grow up. It’ll be great when they do, but this is great too. Savour the moment when they actually think you’re awesome. It’ll only last 6.8 seconds and then they’ll want nothing to do with you for a solid decade.

  12. Val says:

    Fantastic post – I’m burning w/jealousy bcz not only A.) you’re a great writer, B.) I’m supremely envious of all that “baby time” you’re getting as an attachment mom…
    (I feel as though great bleeding chunks of my boy’s childhood were ripped away from me – his father left me when Z was 8 mos old; we were divorced by the time he was 18 mos & had to start the goddamned joint custody routine when he was 2… I tell all my friends w/kids I’m happy to hear them vent, but believe you me, they wouldn’t want to be in MY shoes! I never signed on to be a single mom.)

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