We’ve had a big milestone in our house this week. We’ve been parents for 50 years now. Yes, that’s right, our first born turned the big 5-0.
When you think about it, it’s a little surprising that there are no celebrations of parenting milestones. I guess those are things we do within the confines of our own homes, celebrating when our children achieve a new accomplishment or milestone and especially when they are finally – and hopefully successfully – launched. There’s Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, for sure, which are lovely. But as parents we don’t usually stop and appreciate the magnitude of the role we’ve taken on, usually without having given much thought to what we were getting into!
Some truisms that few of us stop and think about as we’re entering the delivery room, signing the adoption papers, or otherwise taking on responsibility for another human being:
- There is no more important job you’ll ever have than being a parent. You are now responsible for caring for, nurturing, shaping, supporting, and encouraging another human being, who depends entirely on you.
- From now on, life is no longer all about you!
- This all-important job is not always fun, although often it is, and is decidedly not the most relaxing of occupations.
- This job is not the most lucrative, in fact it’s quite the opposite.
- This job is hard. The hours are extensive. Sleep is often elusive in the early years and then again when your teenager is out with the car. The worries can be endless. The challenges are both predictable and entirely unpredictable, and you can be sure that you don’t have the experience to handle it all. Instinct is critical; you have to learn on the job.
- There is no job that’s more rewarding. The joys come both from unanticipated small everyday occurrences and major milestones.
- Your biggest successes – and greatest joy – at this job will come from simply loving your child unconditionally.
Being a parent requires us to accept some overwhelming responsibilities, which fortunately we don’t analyze too thoroughly before embarking on this journey. But if you’re really lucky, aside from the joys your child brings you along the way, you may get the chance to see your child become a parent him or herself. This is where the true reward of parenting comes in!
When your child becomes a parent you realize that they really did learn all those lessons you thought had been totally ignored. It turns out that they really do understand that their kids should not drop their food on the floor. They really do believe that their kids should not say mean things to each other or to you. They believe that their kids should not hit each other, or take each other’s toys, or tease each other because they’re bored. It’s kind of like a miracle. It makes all those years of haranguing them worthwhile, just to get to witness them doing the same thing to their kids!
And, best of all, you get to become a grandparent. Now, spoiling our grandchildren has been made more difficult by our inability to see them in person thanks to pandemic restrictions, but we certainly do our creative best to keep up that end of the grandparenting bargain in these trying times.
Unlike parenting, being a grandparent isn’t hard, it’s all about sharing in the fun. [This does not apply to grandparents who are acting as parents. That’s hard!]
To my way of thinking, grandparents are put on Earth to spoil and entertain their grandchildren. Their role is to interpret rules in flexible ways, such as allowing extra snacks and extra TV watching. The way I see it, our role is to embrace all the fun parts of parenting and leave the hard stuff to the parents. What’s not to love!
Fifty years of parenting and 15 years of grandparenting. Life is good.