Saturday, September 29, 2012

It's More Than Just a Job!

Don't even try to convince me that parenting isn't one of the most difficult jobs on the planet. It is the hardest job and, to make matters worse, it pays nothing. Some mothers say the salary is in the snuggles and kisses but I ain't buying that! Those are fleeting moments in my experience. Perhaps one could count those as perks to the job but it certainly doesn't offset the sweat and toil I put in to do this parenting thing right. I deserve cash. Cold hard cash.

Parenting is not just hard because of all the sleepless nights or dirty diapers. Temper tantrums, field trips and the teenage years all make for horrible working conditions and yet even those are not the worst parts of parenting.

Have you seen our 'clients'? Not only are they extremely difficult to manage, they don't come with an owner's manual. Parents have to wing it. Day in and day out, for years and years we perform our duties off the cuff with little to no training. Meanwhile you become ridiculously attached to someone who, you masochistically hope, will leave you someday.

No, I say parenting is - hands down - the toughest job in the history of forever.

If it was just a simple as keeping our little angels clean and fed; that I could do. For free. (House pet anyone?) Instead we become nurses, teachers, babysitters, chauffeurs, tutors, barbers, coaches and counselors. Yet we are still even so much more than that!

And that's where it really gets hard. While being all that my kid needs, I must keep in mind that none of the duties I perform fulfill the purpose of parenting. Of course we're to take care of our kids and make sure they have all that they need but the one task I am not assigned in my kid's life is to ensure their happiness.

Because we love our kids we want them to be happy. Because we are the ones so invested in their lives, we want them to be happy with us. But this is not our goal. The purpose of parenting is to raise children who can survive and thrive in the society in which they will live. Don't misunderstand me; a byproduct of parenting is (thankfully and sometimes) joy, it's just not the point.

Take my kid for example. He does not like to study. Every night he kicks up a fuss vehemently avoiding homework. Now, if I wanted him to be happy I wouldn't make him do the work. Instead he would play all evening. But because he needs to learn, and because it is good for him, I make sure that he does his assignments. He doesn't like it one bit. It makes him very unhappy.

The truth is, it hurts me to see him so distraught. Everyday I must fight the urge to make it better for him. I want to offer him ice cream for completing his work or promise extra video game time, anything to make him feel good again. I long to lesson his pain but honestly, that isn't a good idea.

It's not my job to soften the blows of life for him. My job is to raise him so that whatever may come his way he can face it. If I take away all the things in his life that cause him unhappiness what will he learn about life? That it is always fun? That life is always fair? Wouldn't those mindsets actually hurt him later when life gets real and gets tough? That's why today my son needs to learn that he must do his homework because that is the right thing to do. Not because there is a reward at the end of the assignment.

I might be in the season of parenting when we are all about sports, school schedules and college visits but I can't lose sight of the fact that I'm raising so much more than my kid. I'm raising someone's friend, spouse and perhaps even father. I'd much rather shape him into the man he could be rather than give in and placate the boy in front of me. It might cost me my blood, sweat, tears and sanity but if that's the price I pay for this job called parenting ... well I'd say it's worth it! Why? Because I'm the mom and I said so! That's why!

(This article appears as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series for The Daily Review Atlas, a GateHouse Media Company)
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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