Remember the offer for “The Most Wonderful Job in the World” in Australia? The antithesis of that job has to be parenting–the most difficult job in the world.
What other occupation can a person have that they must wait 20, 30 or more years before finding out if they were actually successful at it? What other occupation can make you laugh with joy one minute and pull your hair out the next? Where else would you have be “on call” 24 hours a day 365 days a year with no reprieve of the worries or wonders that your responsibilities beset upon you? I have to say the most difficult part of parenting is not carrying a child in the womb and living to care for yourself so that the child can survive and grow. It is not the birthing process by any means. It is definitely not organizing the vacations and planning the days you spend with one another. For me, the most difficult part of parenting has to be figuring out how to help your child realize his or her mistakes and how to help them reconcile themselves in their own hearts and to others if need be.
It dawned on me today, as a mother, that once your child is born, though you may function separately as two bodies, you are truly still one. With every joy my child has, I celebrate; with every sorrow, I cry; with every struggle, I wrestle; with each adventure, I experience…vicariously through my child’s eyes. Though we are separate, we are still one and I cannot separate the emotion I feel from the emotion my child feels as he or she lives out those moments that make him or her who they will one day become.
Today is an emotional day because I had to give tough love. It was not enough to limit the privileges and lecture. Today, though a good effort was put into writing an apology for lack of respect, my oldest child had to mean what he wrote. He had to say it. And as I watched his heart well with anxiety as he realized the consequences of the choices he made, and the tears begin to flood his eyes with shaken voice, I knew he was sorry. I felt it too as a lump began to form in my own throat, my eyes began to water and my own heart began to flutter with anxiety. Yet in those moments, I also felt an extreme amount of pride in my child because he was able to do something that only a person of great character could bring themselves to do, even if he needed a little help to get there.
Parenting is truly difficult and there probably isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wonder if I am doing something wrong. However, all the other days when my children smile at me, hug me, and freely tell me they love me help to fight off any doubt I do have in my mind. I guess it’s that love which keeps us moving forward.