I’ve been going through a few slightly stressful situations with one of my offspring recently. These are all things that are beyond their control, but that I as a parent feel immense pressure to handle correctly.
It got me to thinking. Parenthood – if thought of in terms of a ‘job’ – is a pretty tough one. How many people if presented with a brutally honest ‘parenting job description’ would actually want to apply?
Let’s dissect the job specification:
– The pay is lousy. You’re basically a volunteer who pays to volunteer.
– The hours are crazy. There is no clocking off.
– There is NO or next to NO annual leave – unless you are in the position to employ a nanny or have an exceptionally supportive family.
– There is no promotion. The level you start at is the level you stay – for decades!
– There is no recognition. At least for the first few years, the only gauge that you’re doing a reasonable job is that your child is still functioning.
– Your boss can be an arsehole. They will pee, poop and vomit on you – they’ll likely throw stuff at you whilst screaming in your face.
– The buck stops with you. There are countless decisions to make. There is no delegation. There is no shying away when something makes you anxious or takes you out of your comfort zone – you have to deal with it.
– You put everything on hold and give everything you have to this job and when they’re old enough, they leave (and that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook financially!).
Here’s another thing…
This parenting job has been around since time began and not once, has there been a definitive ‘how-to’ guide dished out to the countless number of new recruits that have gone before. If this was an actual business, employees could sue for lack of training.
There are numerous tomes giving advice, everyone has a ‘top tip’ or two to share, but all humans (adults and children included) are individually unique and so there can never be any do this and everything will work out perfectly advice. That’s why the handbook doesn’t exist.
So, why would anyone in their right mind sign-up for this?
Because, like any job that actually means something to the world, you don’t do it for the pay or recognition – you do it for the love. For the person or people that you’ve created. You’re a part of something bigger than you. Despite all the crap (yes I’m being literal here) your mini-human outweighs every single hit you have to take in order to give them the best life possible.
How this is achieved will vary from parent to parent. What works for one, will not work for another, but that doesn’t make our choices or other parent’s choices less right. Yes there are universal laws that apply when bringing a child into this world – all parents have an absolute duty of care. But you will make mistakes – we’ve all made mistakes. You could feel that you’ve done everything right and you could still end up being the most discussed subject of your now adult child’s therapy sessions. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t a good parent and that you didn’t give your best.
All we can do as parents (and this isn’t how-to advice) is to continue to encourage, love, support and provide.
Yes on paper, this job can sound like it’s totally going to suck. And sometimes it does. But it’s a job that I will never quit. Personally, I’m just grateful to hold – what I believe to be – the role of a lifetime.
I hope this hasn’t put anyone off from taking the plunge into parenthood – I also hope that anyone who has made the choice not to have children will feel even more buoyed by their decision! Do any parents out there have anything they would add to the parenting job specification? Come on, I love a giggle & would love to hear from you – just leave me a comment below.