Bad Parent

Child with a mask complaining to a bad parent

Sheer panic was what I felt as a parent when rumours arrived. All schools, including preschools, will switch to home-based learning (HBL) for a month starting sometime next week. Due to a consistent increase in the number of COVID-19 infection, the Singapore government has decided to close all schools.

In some frantic way to hold on to control, I forwarded the message to a few friends. To some I showed concern if they were prepared as parents; To others, I revealed my dread of having to babysit my 4-year-old for an entire month! The responses brought a bit of relief as ‘fake news’ and ‘too soon’ were uttered in defiance. The live broadcast made by our PM Lee Hsien Loong, however, laid all doubts to rest. The rumours, though inaccurate, proved true.

It took a friend’s curious question about my fear that woke me up to the truth. I have become the parent I used to shake my head at and swear I will never become. I dread the school closure not because it’s bad for my child, but because it’s a great inconvenience for me. The truth of it hurts like a paper cut on a warm sunny day. I am a bad parent.

So What?

In my defence, I do hear parents using the following ‘excuse’. Parenting is hard, and since most parents work a job, it’s almost impossible to find any balance. What is so wrong with having a bit of me-time once ina while?

I used to laugh at such reasoning back when I was not a parent. Time spent with children is the most precious thing in the world, say some expert. I used to agree with that wholeheartedly. But like all things in life, it’s easier to say something than it is to do it.

Most parents that I know do try their best to be good parent. This does not, however, qualify them as good parents. Just like trying to be a good soccer player does not automatically make you a good soccer player. People do fail despite their best efforts and parenting is not exempt from this.

Parent goals

I believe that the ultimate goal of being a parent is love. No other area in life is love being tested more than in parenthood. I can never forget that moment that I held my newly born child for the first time. Staring into his eyes as if time stood still. I recall myself making all sorts of promises in my heart to God and to my child. Fast forward to yesterday morning when an impatient four-year-old kicked my chair and cried “So boring so boring!” continuously as I was rushing to write an urgent email to a client while trying to finish my breakfast.

As I tried to hold on to my sanity, this Bible verse came to mind:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” – 1 Corinthians 4-8

Yes, love never fails; And with that, I closed my MacBook, looked into my four-year-old’s eyes, and made some more promises to him. We spent the next half an hour looking at a Star Wars picture book and preparing for school. I went back to writing that urgent email after dropping him off at kindergarten.

There will be no school to drop him off next week during the school closure. Oh God please help! I am such a bad parent…

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