Monday, January 16, 2012

That's Just Arlington

“You know, that’s just Arlington.” It’s something I hear all of the time from other parents or service providers with respect to there not being adequate facilities or services for young children in Arlington, specifically the Ballston-Rosslyn corridor and North Arlington. I know that part of this relates to supply-and-demand relationships and overcrowding. There are simply not enough parks, homes, classes, grocery stores, schools, doctors, etc. for our burgeoning population (trailer classrooms, anyone?!). Yet, I think there is another commonality…another factor, a parental trait lurking beneath the surface that causes our woes. 

Arlington is, by all accounts, the most educated county and one of the wealthiest in the nation…but a community full of achievers breeds a certain type of need-to-achieve parent, what I will describe as the uber parent - a Type A who is convinced that he or she has the power to control each element of his or her child’s destiny. And women, I’m calling us out here. I think there are a few dads of this persuasion, but it is mostly us.

It’s not getting a seat at reading time at the library; your child not learning to swim unless you register within 20 seconds of the opening bell (and don’t get me started on the message boards lighting up because Arlington County made a mistake in publishing the registration date – as well as parents incensed that the registration takes place at 8 AM, while “they have to take their kids to school” – giving a public forum to the need to beat out other parents in line). Not finding a preschool spot for your child – any full-time preschool - past the fetus stage. Or trying to get a parking spot at Harris Teeter at rush hour on a weeknight.  Everything becomes a competition. Everything becomes one Type A parent trying to best the others. Except there are hoards of these Type As, each trying to best all of the others.

So, this is me, one semi-reformed Type A, admitting I’m out. I cannot play this game as well as the most severe who suffer from my affliction. Trust me, I have tried. I really thought I was at the far end of the anal-retentive, attention-to-detail spectrum, and I embraced who I was. But, enough is enough. I now realize that, at best, I’m a Type A Minus, and guess what?! My kid will still go to college. Or culinary school, or art school, or whatever he wants to do. Because he’s not a race to be won, a project to complete, a goal to be attained; he’s a child. His accomplishments will be his, not mine.

Living in Arlington, and given my proclivities towards competitiveness, I will probably have to remind myself of this from time to time. I will have to fight my own demons, and teach myself that God has a plan for us, and that plan is not for H’s mom to beat out everyone to get what H needs.  I will have to resist these urges and the pressures surrounding me. Which brings me to my question (and hints at a future post baby deuce blog post) – is it this way everywhere? Is this specific to DC and environs? Does anyone else feel this way? Do I gravitate towards Type A communities? Please, help out a mommy who just doesn’t want to fight anymore.

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