I can’t think of too many people who have tailored their resumes around the skills and qualifications it takes to land this job. I haven’t seen lobbies full of perspective parents waiting nervously to interview for the position of “mom” or “dad”. There are no college courses offering a PhD in parenting.
It is frightening; this vocation of taking a tiny human being and staying by their side as they throw up, crap, piss, slobber and cry on your new clothes, clean carpets, mopped floors and upholstered furniture. It’s madness when you think about it. At the very least a man and woman can plan on 18 years of constant interruption. The questions, then the questioning and ultimately – the leaving.
It is an absurd occupation.
The resume is vitally important because there is no Standard Work Instruction provided and no ISO Certification available to solidify a stamp of approval for great parenting. You have to depend solely on the foundation you inherited from your up raising and your environment. Aye, there’s the rub.
You have to let go of feelings of ownership and give way to the fact that your job is to give that natural, innocent child a pair of wings that will one day spread to the hills and fly off into adventures that no longer include you.
And you must be happy about it.
I am speaking from an expanse experience. I gave birth three times. Of the three times, two of my off spring have sprung into their own world of parenting. I am privileged to watch my first born grand daughter and first born grand son growing up; but sadly it is from a distance. They live in the hills of Kentucky where their father is now stationed. It is surreal to watch your own son become a father. His journey is worthy of its own post, his wife’s journey can hold it own chapters.
My eldest child, my beautiful daughter, gave birth to an amazing baby boy nearly 6 months ago.
She took to parenthood so easily. Her natural instincts floor me. I expected to be by her side answering questions, guiding her and helping her shape a foundation for my grandson; but she has a handle on what she carried him nine months for. I’m so proud of her.
I thought I’d be an employed parent for a lifetime until the day I got fired.
I was sitting at work with my son-in-law and his phone rang. “Yeah, well how bad? You want me to come get you? Okay, I’m on my way.” He hung up the phone and said “Travis is throwing up a lot, Maxine is worried, I’m going to get him to the hospital.”
I had an immediate decision to make. Jump up, grab my coat, head for the car and make sure everything and everyone was okay. Or take a deep breath and sit back down.
Thoughts of “that’s my baby girl” shot through my head; then a sudden realization. This wasn’t my child that was in distress, this wasn’t my family to protect, this wasn’t my call.
I sat back down and watched Jimmy leave to take care of his family. His family now. It was no longer my job to handle my daughters business.
I can hear your shouts of protest “oh uh un, that’s your daughter, you have every right to be there…that’s your grandson…oh no, couldn’t be me cause I’da been right there…”
That is where we fail as parents.
This is a brand new family. This is a brand new father. These young people have to understand that they are a unit that must bond in spite of the world and all that will rain down on them. We can’t be the hindrance in this journey because we think, believe and probably know better. It is our job to raise up our children, to give them a solid foundation to build upon. Not to tether ourselves to their ankles and weigh them down with “our way.”
In a split moment I gave my son-in-law his family, his responsibility and his respect for me. I didn’t stand in his way, I didn’t add to his burden by shelling out guilt and hesitation because he didn’t want to hurt my feelings. I handed him his family. That was my job as a parent.
It hurt like hell.
Taking a huge step down is humbling but watching your adult children handle their own families, seeing the hard work and love you put into their childhood, shine through their interactions with their children, is worth the flight down.
I may have lost my full-time job that day; but it was the loveliest pink slip I ever received.