I know it might sound absolutely ludicrous to those of you who know me, but I want to be a parent someday. I can fully appreciate what some of you may be thinking right now. Realistically, I may be more qualified to dictate a war-torn country where I don't speak the language than I am to actually bring up a productive member of society. And not too long ago, you would have been absolutely correct.
However, due to recent tragedy and a change in my personal outlook, I feel like I'm reaching a turning point where I'm curving past this immature purgatory and slowly merging into the lane of adulthood. (And I do mean slowly. I'll be damned if I'm not going to still have days where I sit around and eat pizza in my underwear as I binge-watch episodes of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.")
I've written numerous pieces that glorify partying. The copious amounts of alcohol, the bad decisions that turn into great stories, the sexcapades, the time out with the guys, the thrill of the hunt and the fun of the flirt were all part of the party. It was all a boatload of fun, too. But at some point in your party life, the ugly lights come on, the music stops and it's time to sober up and smarten up.
I have enough experiences and tales of drunken debauchery to last 10 lifetimes. I've learned enough lessons from the mistakes I've made while doing so that I should have three master's degrees and an honorary doctorate in the art of navigating some treacherous 20s. What I lack in my life is stability, a partner to build with and that "forever love."
The sh*t that makes Nicholas Sparks millions of dollars is what I feel like I'm finally ready for. That romance, that chemistry and that unconditional, undying devotion is what I'm finally looking for. And shortly after that, I'm going to want to have kids. I've always wanted my own little sh*t, making my hair fall out while I run after him with the pants that he needs to put on before he goes to school. I want a child or children of my own that I can both impart conventional and unconventional wisdom upon.
I'm not your typical person, I march to my own drum and I want to make sure they understand the importance of that. I'm blissfully ignorant to many things, but I'm completely aware and OK with the fact that when I have kids, my hard-partying days are behind me. I am not a role model of any sorts, I've made very questionable choices and I am far from being any sort of moral compass.
However, even knowing all that, I still get a little irritated when I see new parents shun responsibility and not put their children first. I would never come home sh*tfaced and let my kid see that. I can set enough of a bad example with my consistent usage of the word "f*ck" and my general disdain for societal norms, so I certainly don't need to let them see me stumble in and let them wonder what the hell is wrong with daddy.
So, in short, I would give up partying for parenting in a heartbeat. What I won't and don't feel I would need to give up is my usage of medical marijuana.
Now, I should clarify here that I have been advocating for legalized medical and recreational marijuana for years now. I have my own personal injuries and issues that would quickly get me a medical card in the right states, but my state hasn't fully figured it out yet. So, that leaves me technically using an illicit substance, what some would truly consider a "drug."
I've been someone who suffers from anxiety, depression, panic attacks, chronic back pain from injury, etc. This has been going on for years. I've tried numerous prescription drugs, and nothing has helped relieve my symptoms like that sweet flower has. The research is there now, and there are legitimate studies that prove the benefits of marijuana. I don't smoke to get stoned out of my mind and be one of those unproductive people who give smokers a bad name. I smoke because it normalizes me, and I don't understand why anyone would think I should give that up when I have children.
How could I be a good father if depression is getting the best of me, and I retreat into myself? How can I be attentive enough if my focus is distracted by anxiety? How do you think it would affect my children to see a full-blown panic attack? Why would I want to put myself or them through any of that, if I can avoid it simply by taking a few tokes?
I am not suggesting that I would smoke around them, advocate their usage before they're adults or any other irresponsible thing that the naysayers may accuse me of. I would keep it discrete, I would keep it away from them and I would use it the same way people would use any prescription they're taking. In short, I would use my medicine responsibly.
What many people fail to understand is you can't demonize a substance because it affects certain people differently. In the same way someone may be allergic to penicillin while it helps another, that sentiment can be applied to marijuana. For some, it might make them lazier, paranoid or even make them seem downright stupid. For others, it has a calming effect, it can ease pain and it has the ability to be more effective at treating any sort of psychological issues than any of the Big Pharma drugs.
I have plenty of friends who are very responsible members of society with good jobs and wonderful kids, and they still smoke. They actually seem to be better parents, as they're able to maintain a calmer composure during the times of stress or utter frustration (when children throw temper tantrums, for example). That's not strictly due to the marijuana, though; they're calm people in general. I feel like the weed just amplifies natural aspects of one's personality, but that's just my opinion.
I will give up partying without a problem, but I will not give up my herb, my medicine and the thing that helps bring me inner peace. So, to all the parents out there who are taking care of their responsibilities, being great to their kids and still smoking, thank you. Thank you for destroying stereotypes. Thank you for setting good examples for younger smokers without kids. Thank you for helping to remove the stigma attached to using marijuana once you have a kid.
And on behalf of your children, thank you for just being good parents. That's what really matters, isn't it?