wanted: experienced parent

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.

verklmept

SNL 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! ūüôā

  • 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.

a little goes a long way

i have known my best friend for more than thirty years. her name is shannon. i am six months older but she is more mature. way. together we are gorgeous, neurotic and hilarious. we share common interests; including entertainment, clothing, accessories and sweet tooths. especially the sweet tooths. we have been through the thick and the thin, the better and the worse and we still love each other. she is my sister, my mentor and my therapist. i love her dearly. when our relationship started, we were little girls.¬†we have survived childhood, adolescence and have grown into women. we have weathered the storms of other friends, boyfriends, the birth of each others firsts and the death of loved ones. we are part of each others families and we wouldn’t want it any other way. while we have been many places together and share many memories, we have always had the best time doing absolutely nothing… besides being together.

we grew up across the street from one another. i would go to her house for days on end. she had a swimming pool, snack drawer,¬†little brother and a gramma much like my own. her mom introduced herself to my gramma in the grocery store. the rest is a lifetime worth of memories and good times. we have walked, biked and roller skated through the city of grand terrace a hundred times over. i have probably spent years of my life at her mom’s house. we used to hunt for ladybugs, ride anything with wheels and spend hours a day in the backyard. we would sit up at night in the kitchen; snack on everything and giggle about anything. as we got older we continued with these same activities, even after we moved away from our parents and grandparents.¬† we have always snuck out of the house to see each other when we were sick and not supposed to go anywhere. we also used to call each other and say:

“i’m bored.”

“me too.”

“well come over here and be bored with me.”

isn’t that hilarious? and we would do exactly that. just be in the same place. bored and usually eating. we simply enjoyed the company. we don’t get together as often as we used to because.. well…. because we’re adults, we have families, jobs and other obligations. the days turn into weeks and months before you know it. it took me a long time to realize that it didn’t matter if we had elaborate plans, simple plans¬†or if we actually did anything at all. just being together and sharing is all the good time we needed.

shannon has two children and they are both my sweethearts. callie is my original sweetheart. she is shannon’s first. she is my first as well. i experienced that pregnancy with shannon, including nausea, weight gain and sobriety. the three of us (shannon, alfonso and i) were connected at the hip during that time. we went to shannon’s appointments together, we painted the house together and we even went to lamaze class as a happy family; just the three of us. i was enamored with this little girl and she had yet to take a breath. she had a place in my heart, my home and my new car. she happened to be born on my saturday. at that time i had three consecutive days off. i took two extra days off just to be close. i was so excited to see and meet her. when shannon returned to work three months later. i kept callie for one of those three days off. i had my own supplies including car seat, bathtub, towels, clothing and eating supplies. she always made me happy. when i felt bad, i went to see callie. when i felt depressed, i went to see callie. whenever i needed a pick-me-up, i sought callie. she loved me too. one day she sat on my head and when her mama inquired as to what she was doing, she responded:

“i love herrrrrrrrrr.”

years later, when i was pregnant with my son, i saw her almost everyday. they lived in between my work and home. every night i would stop by and give her a bath. we had fuuuuuun. this carried on until my prego belly was too big to accommodate. i was unable to find a comfortable way to bathe her and still be able to breathe. not to mention, my son had his hard joints pressed into every rib. yes, bathing my darlin’ became a chore and i had to resign. she was N. O. T. happy. not at all. she cried the first night. she refused to allow shannon to bathe her. she wanted “neeeeesshaaa to doooo itttt”. she didn’t even stay in the bathtub, she got up, stomped down the hallway to the master bedroom and sat sulking on the floor of the shower.

my son, kenneth, was born a few months later. shannon was present and pacing in the delivery room. moments after he was born, i dismissed my cheerleader and fan club to get some much-needed rest. the next morning i received a phone call from her asking:

“can you have four-year-old visitors? can you please ask? she’s dying to see you. she’s been crying about it.”

my poor sweetheart was tortured knowing that kenneth had made it into the world and that she hadn’t seen him yet. she came to the hospital laden with gifts, goodies and curiosity. she even wore a new outfit! she climbed up in the bed beside me and looked at him with awe. she inspected his fingers and toes. his not yet formed belly button. she commented on how hairy he was. she was so excited she could hardly contain herself. a week later, we all (alfonso, shannon, callie, mike, kenneth and i) went to big bear for a couple of nights. it was during that time that callie found out that newborns were not as much fun as she had hoped. they don’t play, they don’t cooperate and they usually have something going in or coming out of them. that did not hinder her interest in him at all. she was attendant at every diaper change and she asked every question under the sun. she loved kenneth. she kept tabs on him and she made the idea of nursing him utterly hilarious.

“why he cry, neesha?”

“he’s hungry sweetheart.”

“what him wants, neesha?”

“he drinks milk.”

“oh, want mama get it ?”

“no sweetheart, i have milk for him.”

“where?”

“well. hold on, lemme ask mama something.”

“shaaaaaaannon!”

“what?”

“callie wants to know where his milk comes from.”

“tell her.”

“ok. well, sweetheart, his milk is in my boobies.”

“oh” she said with a very curious look on her face. we all know it was a concept too complex for her to understand, but she attempted to. every time he cried after that she said:

“i think him hungry. i think him wants you boobie.”

priceless! she is still just as curious and candid today. i love her very much. she is absolutely beautiful inside and out. she is very considerate and helpful. she got to be big sister for kenneth and that turned out to be excellent training when the MadMad showed up almost two years later. i was not as close in proximity when shannon was pregnant with AJ. she gave birth to him quietly and without me as a screaming cheerleader. we did not start out with the same relationship that i had with callie. however, we have since made up for it and he is my friend. he comes to me when he’s happy, hungry or hurt. he sometimes calls me “neesa”. and sometimes he calls me “mama”. i’ll take it either way. he’s a lot of fun and i adore him just as much as i adore his sister. i have given birth once, but i have three children. they rock my world.

now, with ALL of that said, we are two women, two friends, and we share our three children. we are close in ways that cannot be explained. hopefully the friendships of our children will stand the test of time and they can blog about each other in the future. we had a sleepover recently. simple, yet astounding. shannon¬†and her little man, my friend “the MadMan AJ” came to pick us up. apparently, AJ had inquired as to our whereabouts first thing in the morning for two days in a row. he’d asked for us and we were available. the boys are always excited to see and play with each other.¬† they pulled up into the driveway and as shannon opened her door, i could hear AJ chanting:

“kenneth. kenneth. kenneth?”

his voice makes me smile. he’s a happy little man. he has the most expressive¬†eyes and boy, does he know how to use them. i peeked inside the car and when he saw me those eyes opened wide and he squealed:

“neeeessa! kenneth? kenneth? kenneth?”

“he’s coming sweetheart, hold on.”

“kenneth?”

we made a few stops and when we got to the house, the boys busted out of the car faster than you could imagine. they ran straight inside murmuring about choo choo trains and went into AJ’s room. he came out shortly with a puzzled look on his face:

“neeesa. help. choo choo train.”

i pulled all of the train related items from our overnight gear. they just wanted to hold a train each and watch the thomas the train dvd. two peas in a pod those boys are.¬† they rip and run until they are worn out. they get testy with one another and have been known to hit. but if you separate them, you’ll be sorry. they have to have eyes on each other at all times. my son asks for AJ constantly. you would think they were separated at birth. good memories and a great friendship are being formed. it warms my heart.

so we watched some movies, snacked (of course),¬† and then it was bedtime… until “g’morning!”. we were going to make breakfast. WERE. we had pulled the waffle iron out and all sorts of things, only to realize that the dishwasher was going to be installed and the magic man that would do it was already on his way. plan change: to zorba’s i went. with breakfast retrieved and the boys seated, we served them and fed ourselves standing, the way most moms do.

we didn’t have any plans, just to be together. we often take the kids for walks. to help expend some energy, to get them out of the house, to enjoy the world and all of the critters it has to offer. so, we walked to the park. they had so much fun. all three kids were on the swings at the same time. i was being ordered around:

“mama, push me.” from my own.

“neesa. fwing. help.” from the MadMan, and

“neesha, can you push me higher?” from the little miss.

they were ecstatic. it was amazing. they were laughing hysterically and for just a second and it made me laugh too. they were so happy and it didn’t cost a dime to take them to the park. they were swinging with each other, laughing at one another and enjoying life. callie and i agreed that swinging barefoot is the bees knees. if you’ve never done it, i suggest you do it. i took so many pictures. i just wanted to stay there and watch them. freeze time. they grow up so fast and time breezes by.

this friendship, between shannon and i, this life long friendship was based around these same types of outings. going for walks, bike rides and swinging at the park. when we were kids, shannon almost always took me with her, wherever she went. we have been everywhere together. her family has always included me and treated me as a family member. back then, we didn’t have money or cars, we just had each other. someone to talk to and laugh with. we were blessed that our families came to pass one another. and our children are also blessed because of it. they are able to visit, interact and love one another as often as we can get them together. granted, groceries, water for fun and baths, along with something damaged and/or broken are not free. they are a luxury, but the time together is free, and the small cost is worth it. our friendship and theirs are effortless and rewarding. just us. just them. it’s essentially us all over again, but this time with an audience.

i have come to appreciate this friendship on a whole new level now that we have children and they are able to interact. i have some very dear friends from my childhood and from my different places of employ, but my thirty year friendship with shannon is one to be recognized. we have been through a lot, and even when separated by distance, we have always been there for each other. i hope that our children are able to foster the same type of relationships with each other. we have laid the ground work and provided an example. we talk to each other, laugh with and at each other, and we love each other. we share, we care and we make room for each other and our kids. we don’t always make plans or have a place to go. we just need to make room and be prepared. yup, a little goes a long way.