I admit it. It isn’t easy. Shit, I didn’t even know I was capable! But after years of reinforcement by religious right-wingers and some male colleagues, it has finally sunk in. As a mother who has worked full time most of the time, and who also happens to have a deep and passionate belief that organized religion has some beautiful things to teach us but is mainly terrifying, I can finally accept that I am raising sociopaths. Even worse, I am in an interfaith marriage and my husband put me in charge of “religious education.” Unfortunately for the kids, their education has been limited to my unique extrapolations of biblical stories and a few vague, inaccurate recollections from 4th grade Hebrew school.
I have tons of examples of other parents advising me of my shortcomings over the years, but in the interest of space and not wanting to bore your pants off, I will share two of my favorites.
- This is an oldie but goody from my corporate days, back when my kids were tiny. I had a newborn and toddler and was traveling around the world often on business. I was an exhausted wreck covered in spit up and snot most of the time, but too tired to care or notice. In Budapest, at a business dinner late one night, after a 9 hour plane ride and days of no sleep, I was informed by a male executive how much he admired me for working despite having kids. He further informed me that his wife, who was brighter than he is (why do all married male professionals with SAHM wives always have to say this?) opted to stay home because you need one full time parent or the kids grow up disturbed. My overtired response to him was “thanks for sharing. Let’s check back in twenty years and hopefully my kids won’t both be axe murderers.” He was a bit offended, I think, but luckily I moved on to other projects and we didn’t have much contact after that enlightening dinner.
- This is a newie but goody, so I still want to punch the sharer in the face. I have been stewing, er ruminating, over this one for a while. At a neighborhood party, a Trumpian blowhard, outdoorsy, Amazonian, loud and bright as a turnip, cornered me in the kitchen and was horrified to learn that I was in an interfaith marriage and we hadn’t selected a religion to raise our kids. She informed me I had no moral compass and didn’t I know all tyrants and dictators –- and sociopaths in general—were raised by parents like me who were not religious. I was pretty shocked and wanted to go at her full throttle, but luckily had enough to drink to convince myself that she was just too stupid to engage with. Plus, she was way bigger than me and could take me easily in a fistfight. So she left the party, smugly thinking she had schooled me. And I got no closure.
Now, despite my best efforts to fail to provide a strong moral center to my kids (by mistakenly focusing on teaching them to be tolerant and respectful of all religions, yet always to question herd mentality and be independent thinkers) neither of my teenagers APPEARS suspicious. They love animals and are kind and gentle with them. Their friends haven’t mysteriously disappeared over the years. They haven’t even done much (physical) harm to my husband or me. We don’t need to go near the emotional trauma– which I bet even Tea Party teenagers inflict on their parents.
In addition –and I can prove this to you by being alive at this moment–I have not yet been pushed down the stairs or poisoned by either of my kids. Of course, there is still time, and I am still damn annoying. And, of course, the true evil perhaps hasn’t manifested itself yet. So while time will reveal all, I can tell you that I am proud of the defective children my husband and I are raising. They are doing a great job at passing as sensitive, smart, thoughtful and engaged young members of our community. If they are the faces of future tyrants and dictators I will happily vote them into office. I admit it—it hasn’t been easy to be this crappy of a parent, but I am working on deepening my crappiness every day and raising two wonderful narcissistic sociopaths to prove it.