Every job has its difficulties, but there is one out there that is the hardest ever.
It’s one that no one ever really prepares for and if they try to they end up more confused than ever when the inevitable twists and turns toss them like clothes in a washing machine.
It is a job that never ends once you start, there is no retirement and the only reward is hopefully the satisfaction of seeing your work turn out to be happy and successful.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, that job is called being a parent.
Reading all of the books on the topic, speaking to others about what they do and even watching other families — that includes any relations that you know — still isn’t enough to provide an adequate education on just what you will be in for when you have children of your own.
And if you thought the early years filled with late night feedings, the lack of sleep, the sicknesses and the messes that had to be cleaned up were bad. Just you wait.
Other troubles kick off as they nudge toward school age.
From social anxiety and the need to learn how to act appropriately with others to the constant development and change in their budding personalities, the parent has to become all manner of different specialists and usually at the same time.
One second you are a psychologist, changing within minutes to a social worker, followed up by becoming a nurse, next you become a dietitian and then into an educational specialist.
And that’s just the first 30 minutes after they get home, because work as a hazardous materials disposal specialist, a barber, coach, cook and animal trainer (any parent whose kids hate baths or their hair washed will get this one) will usually entail the rest of the evening.
Oh, toss in bus driver and personal assistant for those who have kids participating in sports or clubs.
Once the kids depart from elementary school and become more independent, the work changes again and actually becomes the complete opposite of what one would think.
It’s harder to keep track of them as they grow into teenagers, even when they are in the same house as you.
You’re constantly asking questions such as: Are they in their room? Did they go outside? Why won’t they answer their phone? Can they not use up all of the hot water? What is that smell coming from the kitchen?
If you happen to be one of the fortunate, you have teenagers that will speak to you about situations and issues and troubles, rather than in grunts or groans or shrugs or ‘the look.’
It’s also not any easier if your teenager has a job and worse when they have a vehicle as the questions and worries become far more ominous: Where are they? Why are they still not answering their phone? They were supposed to be off work and home two hours ago? Was that an ambulance I saw drive by?
As they graduate high school, the parent is so proud yet also profoundly scared as the child moves forward.
So, it’s yet another change in the face of the parent, hoping that success will follow the child, but knowing there will be many stumbles and falls they won’t be there to help with.
Sometimes, at this point, there can come a separation — when they move out on their own or they leave for a few weeks or months, but come back home at certain times for the next few years.
It’s now that the entire dynamic can change with some continuing to enjoy a healthy, more adult relationship with their children. However, sometimes it doesn’t and that can pose an entirely new set of issues.
Sure, you may still be the father or mother and there can be times where you might have to help repair or assist in working out a situation. However, it should be more of a support role than it is taking over and ‘fixing’ it for them, kind of like when they were learning in their early years.
And that’s all why being a parent is the hardest job you’ll ever have, because you have to train while doing the job and learning that mistakes are simply a part of it all while there is no firm manual to follow.
But that is…just an observation.