For those of you on the verge of diving into parenthood, be prepared to go the long haul. Once that little bundle of joy enters your life, there’s no chance for a do-over.
If all the stars in the universe are aligned in your favor then I say…go for it! However if you’re not in a secure frame of mind where you think you can do this job, then I’d say wait until you are. Another year or two can make a dramatic difference in how well you perform this lifelong task.
No joke! As a parent, you’re employment is guaranteed for life. There’s no retirement when you’re 65. There’s no “golden parachute” of benefits and monetary compensation for decades of stellar performance.
When I signed on as a parent, I was 36. In 1986, I was probably teetering on the brink of acceptance as an older mom. No one wagged a finger in my face as if to say “Well! It’s about time!” Although my younger sisters-in-law had broods of little ones long before me.
Married for 16 years, my husband and I had come to accept that we might never conceive. While I never discussed the possibility of adoption with him, it had entered my mind. I wasn’t prepared to jump through hoops to get pregnant. I would have been stressed, and my unborn child would have felt the impact of my being on an emotional roller coaster.
Jubilant when we got the news that I was finally “with child,” my mood eventually disintegrated into worry over my sanity at being home alone with a newborn. After all, I’d been on a career track for most of my adult life. I’d even contemplated entering law school since I enjoyed my job as a paralegal for a major airline in New York City.
Women are in a unique position when we find ourselves pregnant. We must decide the rest of OUR lives when a child enters the picture. We must incorporate a totally dependent creature into whatever it is we’ve been doing until that point.
It’s like trying to fit 500 extra pieces into a thousand-piece puzzle!
Somehow we manage to stretch ourselves to include more time, more energy, more mental capacity for juggling, more emotional stamina, more backbone for confrontation.
All this while bulking up our softer, gentler side.
We must strive for more patience, become skilled listeners, refrain from nagging, dispense appropriate portions of praise and criticism, appease the disgruntled, soothe the weary, uplift the downtrodden, heal the wounded.
Our call now and then to be the “hostess-with-the mostest” is super-sized to that of Social Coordinator-In-Charge-Of-Everything. Overnight we morph into taxi-drivers, sleep-over monitors, committee chairmen, teaching assistants, Brownie leaders, cheerleaders, snack-time volunteers, costume designers, seamstresses, referees, nurses. The list goes on.
If desired, you could be on-call 24 hours a day. Just don’t expect to be paid like a doctor.
Why in the heck, then, would any, fun-loving, devil-may-care, free-wheeling couple want to tie themselves down with kids?
Because the rewards are as overwhelming as the myriad of duties that go along with being a parent. That’s why!
Yes, there are the acclaims and congratulations when my daughter achieves what might seem impossible to others. And there are the compliments of a job well done from friends and strangers alike. However nothing compares with the love and admiration of the child you’ve nurtured from womb to adulthood.
When my daughter says “I love you,” there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s heartfelt. When we laugh until our sides ache and tears stream down our cheeks, we are bff’s…best friends forever. In that moment, the reward of being a mom is the greatest.
Who knew I would give birth to my very own best girlfriend?
The journey’s not easy. It’s laden with pitfalls, like broken hearts and car accidents. Worrying becomes second-nature. Sacrificing goes without saying. Relaxing is a thing of the past. Considered last is normal.
One day though our children become adults, and they turn to us for help in navigating the challenges of everyday life. It’s then that our validation as parents is complete, even though…
…our job isn’t.