Parenthood, subtracted
Parenthood, subtracted
Scott Dunlop
We all know parenting is a lifetime privilege, not a life sentence. Although there are difficult times when it feels like time is suspended and the trouble seems to snowball, being an active parent does, in a sense, have a finite span. It’s much shorter than we realise.

18 years. That could be the extent of it. Just 216 months or 936 weeks/6570 days.

I heard that collective sigh of relief!

6570 times three is, uh, a LOT of meals. Loads of laundry. Approximately 42 million requests for them to tidy their rooms. It’s also the number we could offer as the opportunities we have to enjoy our children. As a dad who works, as it is for most working parents, the real quality time happens on the weekends, so that cuts the time down to 936 weekends, or 1872 Saturdays and Sundays. I share parenting with my ex, so I only have half. Back to 468 weekends for me.

Raising a child in 936 weeks sounds rather scary. Especially when we’re all so busy filling our time with things which remove us from our kids. Also, when they’re teens, it’s harder to connect with your children.

There will be play dates, birthday parties, sleepovers at their cousin’s house, school camps, times when either parent may be away on business. All of these things nibble away at our time together.

My 468 weekends is cut in half by the teen years when we’ll probably not be around each other so much and all of those other times. That gives me about 234 weekends.

There are times when we’ll be sick or I’ll be busy gardening or cleaning the house and the DVD machine and other toys will be the surrogate parent. I think it’s fair to chop another 50 weekends from my quota for those and other miscellaneous obstructions. We’re down to 180 weekends.

That’s just 360 days.

Less than a year.

Any more subtraction and we’ll be writing a book called “How to raise a happy child in 24 hours.”

I know that I spend way much more time being an active parent, and that parenting isn’t just on weekends or for the fun times, but given that we all have such madly busy lives, it’s probably fair to say that childhood flies by.

Unless, of course, my kids decide to live with me until they’re 40. Then the subtraction becomes multiplication again…

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