Parents. What would you say is the roughest, toughest, dirtiest job you've ever had? Do you watch the show "Dirty Jobs" with Mike Roe? Would it be one of those? A job in the military and being deployed? Being a CEO of a major company? Working on Wall Street? An ER Doc? A heart surgeon? A teacher? What would you say is the most important job you've ever had?
Well, I can say, without equivocation that being a parent is both the toughest, dirtiest and most important job I've had. I've had some stressful and demanding jobs but raising my kids is putting me through the wringer more than anything else I've done. I'm not quite sure why I have ever been or would ever be compelled to answer the question of what I do for a living with the, 'I'm JUST a stay-at-home Mom,' nor can I wrap my head around the fact that some people sneer at that answer or look down with disdain. Isn't it pretty much the most critical and essential career in the world? We'er literally shaping lives and teaching them what they need to survive in the world.
As I try to write this, I can't even find the words that do justice to what we really are doing in our homes to raise these kids to be ready for and take-on the world with character and integrity, compassion and empathy; to be selfless, to be honest, to work for what they want, to be responsible for and accountable to themselves and to know that success requires effort. And through the process it seems like a such a nightmarish, thankless job and one that I'm not sure I can handle on some days. Well, alot of days. And oh the nights when you are actually sleeping and little feet approach your bed and you hear the wonderful, magical words, "Mommy, I just threw up." And you practically ooze your way across the floor in a state of half-sleep to their room where your worst fears are confirmed and there is yakkity yak all in the sheets, over the pillow and comforter and of course your lovely carpet. Off the sheets go, out comes the Resolve, on goes the washing machine, Lysol everything down and run the kid back into the bathroom before it happens all over again. Then there is my sister-in-law, bless her heart, who apparently woke up to a lovely little face in hers and not a moment later had the yakkity yak in her bed, on her pillow and comforter and best of all, her face and hair. Oi Vay!
There are the times you finally feel like Super Mom for getting all the kids ready to go out of the house to do something fun like go to the zoo and mid-way through the Safari Adventure, someones bowels start rumbling and they just don't quite make it to the bathroom in time. And you no longer pack an extra change of clothes in your bag. (Oh that was so bad. I really can't describe what happened once he did make it to the bathroom - it's too horrific. I shudder to recall). There are the calls from the principal, a drop-in from the bus driver (yes, he actually parked the bus out front when he came to chat with us about our kiddo) calls from the neighbors, and for the lucky few, a call or visit from your local police officer. There are groundings, lectures, messes to clean-up, lies to wonder about, bulls*#& to sift through, tantrums at the grocery store, biting siblings, hitting siblings, cleaning the boys' toilet, sass-mouthing you, and even name-calling to you, trips to the Instacare. And we endure it all EVERY DAY in hopes that some of the good of what we do rubs off on them and they actually figure things out for themselves and maybe even embody some of the traits that we taught and trained and prayed for them to embrace every day of our lives.
Here's the kicker - they may or may not turn out 'right' or follow the path you had hoped they would. They might not figure 'it' out and they could even turn out to be totally rotten. But, if we as parents strive to be involved, listen when they will talk, teach and train with love, and truly realize that parenting really is about US as the end result, we can feel confident in the job we did. There will always be things we could have done better and things that we actually got right; moments that we totally bombed on and of course things that we really could have done worse on and thank heavens we didn't. Find the positives and embrace them! It really is about us and how we react, how we teach, how we love, what we do while they are watching (and especially when we think they aren't watching). What are they teaching us? Patience (lots and lots and lots of it), unconditional love, compassion, faith, determination, empathy. We can't force our kids to turn out a certain way.
I read somewhere recently to write down a list of traits that make for the best boss and traits that make for the worst boss. Then consider yourself the boss of your home - are you the boss you would want to have? That really made me think and inspired me to make a few simple changes. How you behave and react to life and what your kids throw at you is everything. Parenting is about us and looking inward and making changes in ourselves first. Now it's time to go teach my 13-year-old how to make a foil dinner for his scouting excursion tonight, the baby is crying, my husband is working tonight and Preston is on me like a fly on fly paper. Let's hope the dog just lays on the bean bag and is content doing so. I'm all in!!