Monday, April 25, 2011

The Objective of Parenting


Perhaps some parents want children to carry on a family name.
Others want kids so they can live out their dreams vicariously.
Or maybe it's nothing more than a genetic code inside us to keep the human race afloat.
I honestly don’t know WHY I want my kids. But the fact remains clear.
I would be lost without them.
Let’s not mince words- I would have nicer items in my house if they were gone, and my once cherished treasures wouldn’t be superglued and duct taped together. I’d have a couch without stains, and could probably save a small forest from being turned into toilet paper.
But my house would be empty and silent. And I wouldn’t like that at all.
I could afford to drive a better car, wouldn’t have to drive a passenger van to haul all their stuff, and could choose music that wasn’t produced by Disney.
But I’d miss the sound of their voices fighting in the van.
I wouldn’t have to break up sibling revolts, would only have to do 3 loads of laundry a week, and wouldn’t find a dead frog in the bottom of my washer that was left in the pockets of somebody’s shorts.
But I wouldn’t know how to fill my days without the chores they so generously provide.
I would only have to cut 20 finger and toe nails instead of 80 and do it without needing goggles from rouge flying toenail bits, I wouldn’t have to figure out how in the world a piece of sticky foam wound up on the ceiling, and there would never be an egg shell stuck to my kitchen curtain.

But then I wouldn’t have memories to look back on and laugh about.
I wouldn’t have to deal with selfish moments, when a child insists they are the center of the universe, and I have to burst that bubble as gently as I can. I wouldn’t have to worry that their hearts are going to be broken by another person. I wouldn’t have to fear that someone will hurt the kids I sometimes have to tune out for my own sanity’s sake.
But in those moments, powerless as a mother, I have learned more about myself than I ever knew without having them in my life.
I wouldn’t have boobs that are 3 feet long from nursing, stretch marks on body parts I didn’t know would stretch, or perpetual hemorrhoids. I wouldn’t have a bladder that can’t handle sneezing, coughing, laughing, or being surprised.
But I also would have missed the feeling of seeing such precious faces for the first time and knowing I was more complete as a human.
I wouldn’t have to explain to you that even though you are the most precious people on earth to mama and daddy, that the rest of the world doesn’t feel that way about you. Being special in the world is something you have to earn.
But then I’d never know how special a family really is.
So what is the objective of having kids?
I don’t know. Having kids certainly has made me a more objective person.
I’ve had to make tough choices that will make their lives better in the long run. I’ve had to give up the fantasy that I will be my children’s friend, and concentrate on simply being their parent. I’ve had to learn that allowing a child to be comfortable seldom builds character. I have gained a new appreciation for other parents who shake their heads in sympathy when I explain the latest phases we are encountering. I’ve learned that above all else, it is my responsibility to bring up productive members of society who have compassion on humanity, and had to accept that humanity they are compassionate to does not include your brother or sister when you are a kid.
I’ve had to accept that as a parent I will never be perfect. I will make mistakes, fall short, and sometimes, have to ask forgiveness from my kids. I’ve learned being a parent often has you apologizing to other people because your child made an unwise choice. And I’ve embraced that kids aren’t going to be perfect, no matter how great of a parent you are. Your kids will make mistakes, and it doesn’t devalue your worth as a parent. Instead, it offers you a multitude of teaching moments, and you and your child can develop trust in your relationship together.
Being a parent is saying no a million times. It’s saying yes on occasion from nothing short of desperation for a moment’s peace. It’s kissing your money goodbye to keep them in shoes, clothes and paying for school lunches that they despise you for making them eat. It’s spending an hour cooking dinner and calling it a win when 60% of the kids actually like what you made.
It’s admitting that parenting is the hardest job in the world, and finding ways to enjoy it. It’s coming to terms that there is no such thing as a vacation for a parent’s heart. It’s talking about nothing but your kids on date night when you are finally alone. Parenting is spending HOURS of your life talking to someone about how you are raising them- questioning everything and wondering if you are a good parent.
So what is the objective of parenting?
I don’t know. But my mom tells me it has something to do with sugaring up the grandkids and sending them back home to their parents…