May has Mother’s Day. June has Father’s. But when do we celebrate Sucky Parents? Certainly they exist so they deserve a month too. How about July?
No matter how crummy or contentious or annoying parents are, most people will still wish them a happy Mother’s or Father’s Day, and many of these children feel dishonest. And the ones who don’t want to lie keep quiet. After all, it is our overwhelming cultural belief that it is normal and healthy to make a family or long for one, and if you don’t, at least join a corporation or street gang. And since our parents did that, we should either lie or keep silent about their suckiness.
Since I have never fallen into the idealizing or family-making/longing or silent categories, I protest. And this year, after reading the four hundredth Facebook post lauding a great or badly missed dead parent on the appropriate national holiday, I had an epiphany: For a more authentic expression of our entire culture, we need a Sucky Parents Day—a day for all the people with abysmal mothers and/or fathers to say “Thank you, Pop. Thanks, Ma. Even though you clearly had no business or talent for raising kids, I’m grateful that you had me because otherwise I wouldn’t be here, which let me tell you, has not been easy, since I grew up feral due to a parenting style referred to as ‘natural growth’ by Malcolm Gladwell in his ground-breaking book about why, despite my near-genius IQ, I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing most of the time.” And If you are a Sucky Parent, you will now have an appropriate holiday to tell your kids how sorry you are that you didn’t know what you were doing, and it’s a crying shame you were drunk so much of the time, but hey, what do they want, you had Sucky Parents too. (I use initial S P caps to subliminally convey the importance of this unserved population.)
And now, forgive me, but I must digress into the biological root and therefore the cultural imperative to celebrate Sucky Parents: As with most human characteristics, becoming a Sucky Parent is a product of both a lineage of non-nurturing and nature. I know this because a few years ago I had my DNA tested in the Genographic Project to “learn more about who we are, where we came from, and how we relate as members of one extended family.” I thought since my immediate ancestors were not only abysmal but dead, perhaps it was worth a cheek swab. And what I learned threw my proclivity for solitude and plant friends into a whole other light.
According my Certificate of mtDNA Testing, I am a member of the group known as Haplogroup T. Because I am not a geneticist and decided early that I have no aptitude for science and got away with it due to the fact that nobody read my report cards, I ignored all the complicated words that followed this declaration and went straight for the family tree gossip:
Between 150,000 and 170,000 years ago, a lady named “Mitochondrial Eve” had kids in East Africa. Eve’s kids had kids and so on and so forth, and over the course of tens of thousands of years, they migrated to northeastern Europe, where most of my tribe still lives, but this is getting boring so let’s jump to me, me, me—Haplogroup T. (One characteristic of non-family types may be narcissism, but hey, it’s not like I’m neglecting the kids.) And here’s the good stuff:
We Haplogroup Ts liked plants. Before Hap Ts, Eurasia had been occupied by hunter-gatherers and subsistence fishermen, but my clan did something different: we began collecting seeds and domesticating plants for food; in other words, we were the world’s first agriculturalists—inaugurating the Neolithic age. Because of the food grown by us Hap Ts, others began migrating to our neck of the world and copying our technology. But, says my genetic history, and I quote: “Interestingly, DNA data indicate that while these new agriculturalists were incredibly successful at planting their technology in the surrounding groups, they were far less successful at planting their own genetic seed.” Hence, the lineage is a mere twenty percent in Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Hence, my ancestors were not really big on the family thing. Hence, if they did have kids, they probably were Sucky Parents who begat Sucky Parents and so forth and so on right up to right now. Hence, we should have a Sucky Parents Day to celebrate them. So I repeat: How about July?