My ex is not a bad parent, he just has a slightly different parenting theory than I do. When we were married, I came up with the following brilliant resolution:
Me: "Hey, I have an idea. We don't let the kid cry it out, and I get up for every waking, every night forever, and you stop telling me how to raise this kid."
Me: "I have an idea. We'll do cloth diapers. I'll change the baby for every dirty diaper, and you shut up about it being gross."
See how easy I am to get along with? Turns out that didn't work well in the long run. I didn't renege on the deal, in case you were wondering, but I did resent him for keeping to it. Also, I think he missed out on a fair amount of bonding, because I did all the child care all the time.
Anyway, once I became a single parent, I revelled in the joy of being the one to make all the rules. Occasionally the ex would attempt to control things at my house, like nutrition, or toe nail painting, but I gleefully told him, "My house, my rules." I didn't realize that the down side of that is "his house, his rules."
My ex loves video games, TV, football, and farting. Three nights a week Daddy's Rules reign supreme, and there is nothing I can do about it but glower, like the time Big Pants came home with a sore arm from playing the Wii for 10 hours straight. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure he thinks I am warping the kids by painting their toenails and eating fast food. I'm not saying he is evil, just that he parents differently and it's frustrating to have no control over that.
Today I took the boys to the beach. It was 40-ish sunny degrees, and we ran around and climbed rocks. We as in me, too. They got scrapes and I got blisters, but we had a blast. Big Pants decided we needed to "protect the waterways," and collected a bag of litter all by himself. We were getting our nature on, climbing this giant breakwall of assorted rocks and Tiny Pants looked at me and said in his best speech-impeded five year old voice, "This is the goodest life, Mama. People who sit inside on a nice day and just play video games and sit in front of their computers don't know how to live."
You see, I mean to be that mother, who takes the kids outside, teaches them about nature, recycling, grows organic food, and knits my own socks. I really planned on being that mother. But a lot of the time I let my kids watch TV and eat anything they can rummage in the kitchen while I take a nap or do homework. I wanted to make my own toys and homeschool, but a significant portion of the time I really just want them to go play and not mess up the living room too much again.
I tell myself it is a balance between modern conveniences and the natural world, and on days like today I feel like I'm doing a pretty good job of it, so as a reward for all that sun and fresh air, we hit up the KFC drive through on the way home.