My Dad had a child under the age of 12 in his house for 27 straight years now. He’s tired and I can see it, but he won’t admit it.
Parenting is often referred to as the hardest job in the world. This statement is generally mentioned when referring to a stay-at-home mom or dad. The truth is, parenting isn’t a job (though I fully acknowledge that it can feel it), it’s a privilege.
There are millions of people across the world who don’t have the option of having biological children. There are also millions of people who have biological children and then chose not to take care of them. These situations result in children being adopted to good homes as well as bad homes. I adopted my son a year and a half after my wife and I got married. He was five at the time and it was one of the happiest moments of my life. When the judge hit the gavel saying our case was concluded and he ruled in favor of the adoption, I cried. My son was standing next to me between my wife and I and I reached down, picked him up, and carried him out of the courtroom. I didn’t want to let him go. I never will.
While I’m still a relatively new parent, especially compared to my dad, I can understand how and why my father is tired. There are four of us that call him dad and he’s spent well over half of his life taking care of us through our easy years as well as our toughest years. He’s tired. I can tell that he feels like he’s run out of tricks to teach his kids what the right thing is when they’re doing the wrong thing. The problem is, my youngest brother is only 11. He’s got a long way to go.
Parenting can be taxing. When kids are little it’s impossible to communicate in a reciprocal manner. They can’t speak. When they begin walking it’s nearly impossible to keep up with them. When they start talking it’s impossible to answer even half of their questions, much less all of them. When they begin playing sports to playing music, it’s impossible to find some peace and quiet in the house.
And still when they begin to go to school dances or go on dates it’s impossible to not worry about their physical well-being as well as the well-being of their heart.
When they go to college it’s impossible not to wonder if they’re making good choices about who they hang out with or how they spend what little money they have.
Parenting is a life-long endeavor. Once you become a parent, you never stop. But that doesn’t mean you don’t get tired.
When I’ve talked to my dad about what it’s like to have a grandchild that is only four years younger than his youngest child, he simply smiles and says, “it’s nice that my little boy has someone to play with that I like.”
My dad would never admit that he’s tired because he doesn’t realize he’s tired. Maybe subconsciously he does, but he would never acknowledge that he’s tired because he’s filled with nothing but love for his children. As are all parents.
Every kid will test you in ways you could not imagine. Every kid will think about problems differently than the one before. Every kid will find themselves in situations never imagined by their parents.
Experience is always a gift to be cherished, this is not lost on parenting. We will all get tired at some point in our child’s lives. Maybe it’s work pressure or relationship pressure or just life pressure, but the love we have for our children will never allow us to give that fatigue credibility. And that’s how it should be.
Inject energy into your children. There are more ways than one can count to do such a thing, but your children love you and need you. Even when they tell you they don’t. Keep that in mind when you feel like all you want to do is sleep.
Photo credit: Flickr/Darcy Knoll