Monday, May 12, 2014

Parenthood Is(n't) A Job

Idio(t)m #1: "Parenting is(n't) a job"

Yes. I realize this title will piss a lot of people off. In fact, the T is added purposely to insinuate most idioms are idiotic and useless. Perhaps it should be expounded upon: "parenting isn't a job...it's a blessing." This is in response to the overwhelming amount of blogs, articles, and websites that discuss how parenthood is the most difficult job out there and how trying and overwhelming it is. I really feel like these articles are trying to cover up a feeling of shortcomings, that some parents feel inadequate and that they're doing things wrong. I think some people think they must be perfect parents and live their lives according to experts' advice. Or sometimes we just want a pat on the back for the work we put in and don't get paid for. What you're supposed to get from reading these "I'm supermom because I was able to run errands, feed, bathe, and put the kids to bed" texts is that you are super special as well as a parent. What I get is, "man this girl is whining and wants a cookie for doing what a lot of us do, every day."

In our society today, we're teaching children that they get rewarded for trying, trophies for participating, and that every child has some type of gift. Now, we have and will have more parents that want those pats on the back as well. People have the mentality of "I'm a parent so I'm special and I should be rewarded for daily feats of dressing a toddler during a tantrum, getting that picky eater to finally try broccoli," and other minute details that we care greatly about but honestly everyone else could really care less about.

I'm not saying parenting is easy, especially in certain circumstances. I'm not talking about the parents of special needs children who go through real ordeals every day just to make it through. Also, being a single parent seems almost impossible to me--you folks deserve Superparent status. But, some of these blogs are from stay at home moms--I don't even want to hear it! You have the best and easiest life out there without having any pressing concerns with work weighing you down. I sort of know what it is like to be a stay at home mom every summer where I only work about 15 hrs a week. If I had the means, I do it in a heartbeat. It's a simple blissful life where everything gets done, is clean, and everyone is happy--a dream world (at least in comparison to rat-race world). Also, if your kids are in daycare 12 hrs a day, five days a week, I'm not sure what you really can complain about. 

No, I'm talking to the average parent who has to work and rear children. I find the hardest thing about parenthood is my actual job. I have to bring work home with me. Hours of it. As an English professor, I bring in 4 rounds of 100 papers a semester, among a lot of other grading, paperwork, lesson plans, etc. I only have to work about 20 hrs on campus, which allows me not to use daycare for my son, but grading with a child around is very difficult. That's it. That's all I consider "difficult" about parenting. The lack of downtime I took for granted before he was born haunts me with what could have been done. That past child-free life shows me how lazy I had been.



Now I must get to the prerequisite section. If I say parenting is not a job, I must have it easy. We didn't in the beginning. We had a premature baby 7 weeks early due to preeclampsia ( The Mother's Grimm Tale--my childbirth experience). After 3 weeks in the hospital, he came home where we dealt with the typical sleepless routine just like everyone else. We, however, we're ordered by doctors to break the cardinal rule of don't wake a sleeping baby, since he needed to catch up to a normal birth weight. That was not fun. Neither was the colic, acid reflux, and milk allergy which became so bad that at times we were frantically aspirating him as he literally was asphyxiating. He also had hemangiomas that concerned doctors and needed an ultrasound and go under for an MRI. There were times when the five hours straight of crying became too much and I'd start crying and seriously proclaimed to my son that if he didn't stop I'd throw him in the trash can (it was fleetingly temptation). Usually, I would put him in his crib, leave the room, scream into some pillows, and then return to him calm as a cucumber. 

During all this I threw out the blame card, on myself for needing a c-section (milk allergies and colic have been linked to it), on my incapability as a mother, of the doctors for not letting us bond properly at his birth, at my husband for working (I know, but lack of sleep makes you very illogical), and for being a difficult baby himself, from what his mother told us. If I can't comfort my own baby, I must be an inept mother. This was my conclusion. All those "parenting" websites did not help me; in-fact, they made me feel as though I was definitely doing something wrong. Every symptom I looked up that my son had told me to take him to doctor (which we were doing regularly). All the lovely advice from well meaning people was bull. "Did you try..." sayings made me want to slap people. Of course we tried. We had tried everything! It is true when the doctors tell you every child is different. I learned after about 6 months (when some of the health issues began to wane) that I wasn't a perfect parent and I don't have a perfect child because there's no such thing. I made mistakes and I'll make more. I don't have to be perfect in this avenue of my life or any other. I just need to he happy.

Of course, there are these challenges that make the role of parenting seem almost impossible like a chore and a job, but when you measure how rewarding parenting is versus the challenge, you always come up on top. You achieve flow again. Also, you must embrace your imperfections and your child's to fully realize who you are as a parent. What I'm really saying is parenting isn't some dreadful job to whine about, but a rewarding role in life we are blessed with.

So I do not understanding this new outlook on parenthood that is out there. It isn't a difficult process but fun and rewarding, even through the stages of colic-reflux-sleepless-night hell. In fact, I've stopped writing this four times so far to just to play cars and go over flash cards. Children are not hassles but gifts, and you do not deserve an award from society because your child is that reward. Parenting is the easiest and most rewarding role if you accept the fact you'll never be a perfect parent because there's no such thing. After all, parenting is a choice, not a job, not a burden that was forced upon you (there are preventative measures out there folks). So look at it for what it is, a gift. And if you want society to give you a cookie for your effort, simply bake them yourself.

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