The Replacements

The Twitter world lit up over the controversial final call of the Green Bay vs. Seattle game on Monday Night Football on September 24th.  The call (or missed call) was carried out by replacement refs who have been officiating NFL games since the referee lockout began prior to the start of the 2012 season.  Fans have not been happy about the situation and were so vocal about removing the replacement refs that the NFL and the NFL Referees reached an agreement two days after this game to end it. The substitutes, as fans would say, weren’t cutting it.

And how could they? It was known the replacement refs were substitutes whose job was to fill in while the labor dispute was ongoing. They didn’t have the experience the professional referees had, nor the vested interested to hone their skills (though I am quite certain they all wanted to do a good job). They did their job knowing it was temporary.

As a babysitter in my teen years I was grateful for the work and the money. I loved kids, prided myself on being responsible and wanted to do a good job. Yet, I was very aware that the job I was doing was temporary. If I did a good job, hopefully the parents would have me sit again. If I didn’t, not a big deal, finding another family to sit for wasn’t hard to do.

The permanence of parenting didn’t settle in for me until about a month or so after our first son was born. It reminded me of being a babysitter, except this wouldn’t be a temporary gig on a Saturday night, but a permanent one that I’d be doing 24x7x365 for the next 18 years.  The realization that I not only had this new job, but I would also need to be “on my game” all the time was a little overwhelming, but it was clear my presence was required and I needed to commit to be the best parent I could be. No temporary lockouts, checkouts or somebody-else-can-handles. There is no substitution for the real thing.

While there will never be the threat of an “official” lockout for parents, unofficial forms can occur—through divorce or strained partner relationships, demanding work schedules or commitments that keep you outside the home—any time your child experiences your absence physically or emotionally. To your child, there is no substitute for you. You may miss an occasional “call” in parenting, but have the opportunity to make it right.

The Twitter world might not light up over the news that you are a caring and committed parent, but your child’s will, and there’s no replacement for that.