parenting is a job. no, i’m serious, a J-O-B. it’s no wonder that it’s not listed in the local paper or employment website. the “job description” would frighten even the most confident applicant and cause the weak to piddle themselves where they stand. who, in their right mind, would volunteer for round the clock body fluid cleanup? or unlicensed, never paid, nurse/therapist/doctor/best friend? perhaps that is where the magic lies. in the fact that we only have an inkling of what it takes to be a parent and the true test and real reward come with the learning. so we do the deed, sew the seed and parents we become. or so we hope.
it’s 5am where i reside and i’ve slept only a percentage of what a normal person should. most days (as of late) i would have slept all of those lovely “doctor recommended” hours and would be on the verge of waking to start my day. but, my son currently has bronchitis. he’s coughing, sneezing, wheezing, barfing, whining, writhing, sleeping intermittently and highly feverish. did i mention he’s barfing, vomiting, and throwing up?
in the last twenty-four hours he’s returned everything that he’s eaten, missed school, been to the doctor, and slept like an infant. he’s coughing like a thirty year smoker and just exhausted. at six years old, his tiny man frame cannot handle the force of continually coughing, wheezing and sneezing…so, he’s just pooped out. and without food in his system he is unable to retain his harsh medications so we are in a “break the fever” and “try to get antibiotics into him” limbo. it stinks.
at almost thirty weeks pregnant, carrying thirty extra pounds, i too am pooped. for the last two months we’ve religiously gone to bed about nine and i lazily get up after five to start our day. i think i slept from one to two, and then again from three to four. all the while reaching for him to check for fever. a little after four, SuperBoy woke me requesting water. and soon after “some food”. (hallelujah!)
after giving him some water and having a short discussion on what causes an itchy throat and a noisy tummy we settle on a snack of white rice (in an attempt to keep the body fluid cleaning persona of parenting at bay). after slowly gathering my faculties and balance (a thirty pound belly fulla twin babies makes a gal a little clumsy), i retrieved the rice, more water, the antibiotics, ibuprofen and a napkin. once he was all set, he asked me if he could watch tv. on any given day of the week, he would not be awake at this time, but he’s slept more than he’s done anything else and i know he’s feeling better, and hungry. both are good things and I cannot protest. he looks at me sweetly, with dark circles around his eyes, a grain of rice stuck to his lip and while donning the cutest smile he says “you can lay down, i’ll turn the tv down, i know you’re tired” and he grins again. instantly i became verklempt.
that. that right there is what it’s all about. that is what makes every other moment worthwhile. the fluid cleaning, pseudo-chef and unpaid unlicensed respiratory therapist that reside within me cheered and high-fived because even the mind of a sweet but sick little boy can recognize my efforts. if you’d explained on the parenting job description that my payment would come in the form of foggy-eyed smiles and the tired but genuine hugs of a tiny man, i’d tell you to take your job and shove it. but in this moment, i couldn’t have asked for a more satisfying payment.
you’re not a parent because you’ve submitted DNA or given your name. pushing a stroller, holding a baby or changing a diaper does not a parent make. parenting comes with the sacrifice. in fact, it is synonymous with sacrifice. parenting is the relentlessness that it takes from an adult to make a child happy and healthy. a parent isn’t born because a child is born. a parent is born when an adult puts a child before themselves. when the adult, after having no sleep, not brushing their teeth, showering, or changing their clothes can drag themselves out of the house with a worse-than-bedhead look and get more juice. a parent is born when you forget about yourself and focus only on the child. sadly, parenting and child bearing don’t actually have anything to do with each other — even though they are directly related (thehellyousay?).
some parents are better than others. some parents have more than others. some people had great parents and role models and became awesome parents and role models. some awesome parents are born from horrible people that shouldn’t be allowed to monitor houseplants, but they change their everything for their little ones. some people are well studied and some seem lucky. some people beg for parenthood and never get the chance. some people don’t want it but are blessed with it, repeatedly. It doesn’t matter how you became a parent. what matters is that you take the job seriously. children are persistent in all things. all things. and they need their parents, guardians, monitors, and providers to be just as persistent — and then some. parenting is for the wholehearted. it’s for the givers, the doers, the encouragers, and good listeners. parenting is not for the weak. it’s for the open minded, willing to learn, compassionate, young-at-heart who don’t have time to think about themselves, because their only aspiration in life is to nurture their child.
the rewards of parenting are not instantaneous or consistent. they are not guaranteed or even measurable. the rewards of parenting can only be felt in your heart — when your baby shows you how your hard work has been absorbed and appreciated. the biggest reward comes from watching your little one become a happy successful person and the look they give you to tell you they couldn’t have done it without you. the reward for parenting doesn’t come from the community, the classroom or the PTA. it can’t be handed to you, gifted to you, ordered or purchased. the real reward comes from your child, the child you care for, provide for, mentor or foster. it’s immeasurable but invaluable. more often than not, you won’t see it coming and that too is it’s beauty. the love, the respect, the appreciation for what you’ve done for that child will knock you flat on your ass, and it is in THAT moment that a parent is born.
let me plainly state, as well, that successful parenting is relative and situational. we don’t all have the same background, aspirations, resources, goals or passions. it is up to YOU (and to ME) to feel and appreciate the success we achieve as parents. we cannot look to another to validate this and we cannot succumb to the criticisms of others. only you know your struggle. only your kids know your parental love. that is a dynamic exclusive to you and yours and no one can take that from you.
i’d also like to point out that we are all human. we are not divine, perfect or flawless. we can and we will make mistakes. learning from them is all that we can do. mistakes in parenting are as constant and consistent as the doubt, love, frustration and satisfaction. it must all be taken in stride. after all, parenting is a lifelong career choice. it is not for a limited time or even for “eighteen years”. loving and caring for your child will extend beyond your imagination. from the first audible flutter of their tiny heartbeat to the day that you draw your last breath — your child, your children, your babies will be evermore the focus of your life. their happiness, pain, fun, love, dreams and desires become your own and you will exhaust yourself time and again doing whatever you can, as hard as you can, for as long as you can to guide, advise and help them. they are parts of you that live independently outside of you and you will forever-ever-ever be in awe of them.
children change you. they change your life, your views, your plans, your thoughts, feelings, and time schedule. they take over your heart and your mind and you go from being your own person to being theirs. you are their everything…but not half as much as they are yours. there won’t be a millisecond in time that you are not consumed with them from every angle, and it is in those moments — when you find the reward: the indescribable and overwhelming sense of love and pride in knowing that you “made that”!
as always, i can only tell you my experiences and share my thoughts. i welcome yours. i sought help with this post through my Facebook world and my friend JBRN shared the written advertisement below. he advised that this was not his own creation but one that he treasured and my prompt allowed him a timely opportunity for sharing. it’s quite ideal. please enjoy. don’t forget to comment, like and share! 🙂
- POSITION: Mom, Mama, Mother (we know it’s not just moms though)
- JOB DESCRIPTION: Long term team players needed for challenging permanent work in an often chaotic environment. Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24-hour shifts on call. Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities. Travel expenses not reimbursed. Extensive courier duties also required.
- RESPONSIBILITIES: For the rest of your life. Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs $5.
Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly. Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf.
POSSIBILITY FOR ADVANCEMENT AND PROMOTION: Virtually none. Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you.
- Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers.
- Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects.
- Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks.
- Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, an embarrassment the next.
- Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys and battery operated devices. Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.
- Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product.
- Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.
- PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE: None required, unfortunately. On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.
- WAGES AND COMPENSATION: You pay them! Offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent. When you die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.
- BENEFITS: While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered; this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs for
life if you play your cards right.
p.s. call your mother and say something nice.