Parenting Perspectives: Stay at home or not, you’re ALWAYS a full-time parent. Here’s why.
This column is aptly titled “Parenting Perspectives” not just because of the catchy alliteration, but because the many writers who contribute each week share their personal attitudes and points of view on parenting.
This got me to pondering: how do I regard parenting?
Challenging. Incredible. Frustrating. Heart-bursting. Head-bursting. Hard. Simple. Complicated. Basic. Surprising. New and exciting. Mind-numbingly mundane.
But mostly, parenting is constant and overwhelming.
Parenting knocks on your door one day, thrusts a helpless human being into your arms, and then sets up camp in the basement where it watches movies all day and never becomes an independent member of society. Parenting comes in and transforms your entire life.
Parenting is always on your mind, whether you’re at home, work, or vacation. You’re always actively parenting, even when you leave the kids at home with a baby-sitter.
Someone had to line that sitter up, make sure the pizza was ready to put in the oven when said sitter arrived, and then be responsible enough to turn down the tequila shots at 10 p.m. so you can still function when the 2-year-old is begging for pancakes at 5:30 a.m.
You might think that once the kids move out on their own, parenting would ease up. But no. From what I gather, it’s just a different kind of responsibility. Sure, the diaper changes might decrease and you’ll miss little fingers grabbing food off your plate, but anxiety over their life choices and financial requests fill that void.
You’re still awake in the middle of the night, whether they’re 18 months or 18 years, and it’s all because of parenting.
(I do hear there’s a nice little respite from the ages of about 7-11. My bed and I are looking forward to that.)
Parenting is overwhelming because it’s 24/7 for the rest of your life. It’s constant demands, decisions, and opportunities for my husband to work on his patience.
As soon as we get comfortable, parenting throws in a new challenge.
It’s always with you. You can never shut it off. You can leave the kids behind, but you never stop being their parent.
When I was preparing to transition to working from home, someone said to me, “Oh, so you’re going to be a full time parent now!”
With all due respect…no. I already am a full-time parent. We all are. The physical actions involved with it just take a different form depending on if you’re with the kids all day or not.
Parenting is a full-time job; it doesn’t take the place of any other duties, it just layers on top of all the other “jobs” we have in our lives as well.
To be a parent is to be overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by exhaustion and adrenaline. Overwhelmed by giggles and by hugs. Overwhelmed by the constant up and down emotions of these little tyrants who take you on a roller coaster ride. All. Day. Long.
My three-year-old can’t get enough of the baby. He is completely enamored with her and, because he’s a physically affectionate person already, insists on flooding her with hugs and kisses upon waking, before tucking in at night, and every ten minutes in between.
When I wake the baby up from her nap, my toddler loves to come in and greet her. He throws his arms around us both, puts all of his tiny weight into it, and topples us down. Rolling on top of us, he giggles, “So much love! So much love!”
In those moments, my heart is on the edge of bursting. So much love. I’m overwhelmed by the love.
So much constant, overwhelming love.
Like when it’s 5:45 p.m. and the five-year-old is reaching for a scissors he NEEDS for his paper airplane project; the three-year-old is yelling from the bathroom, “I’m DOOOONNNE!”; the baby is prowling the kitchen floor looking for scraps; and Mr. Carson STILL hasn’t poured you a glass of pre-dinner wine.
Or do we only have those staff troubles at my house?
I know it’s just another form of “so much love,” but sometimes it would be nice if it didn’t arrive in the disguise of everyone’s needs converging as the sauce is boiling and the phone is buzzing.
Sometimes it all seems like a great adventure, and other times it’s a borderline great big mistake. Either way, from my perspective, I can see that this parenting thing isn’t going away, so I figure I better give it all I’ve got.
It’s been an idyllic summertime experience. It has brought me joy and even made me love my children more, to see them running and laughing and enjoying the simplicity of childhood. When I see the viral posts saying how we need to “give our kids a 1970′s summer” again, I just shake my head. Regardless of the decade, everything we need for a perfect summer is within us.
In a book I was recently reading, the author referenced a Facebook post that was going around a few years ago. In it, Facebook users were prompted to share a list of (somewhat random) things about themselves. Things their closest online friends might not know about them, but maybe should.
The author used it as an opportunity to pull back the facade on her life and be vulnerable with experiences from her past, feelings in her present, and fears of her future that most people didn’t realize about her. It resonated with all who read it, and the response was overwhelmingly positive.
It occurred to me that I could make a list for my children. 15 Things I Want My Kids to Know About Me.
When I am laughing with my daughter on the floor as she pretends I’m her baby, watching the joy unfold on my middle son’s face as I “fly” him on my feet, or feeling the comfort of my oldest son’s arms around me at bedtime, sometimes my mind will think, “I should take a picture of this.”