A few days ago I came across this blog post via a friend on Facebook. I read it while I was putting my youngest daughter to bed and it stayed with me – To parents of small children: Let me be the one who says it out loud - I wanted to let Steve know that not everyone feels like him, that he is not a terrible parent just like he says he isn’t but he is taking a risk…
I agree with Steve in many ways. I agree that those that go to work are not terrible parents, I agree that some parents are luckier than others on their children’s eating habits, I agree that being a parent is tiring because it is not a controlled situation – children wake up in the middle of the night, they cry, get upset, want to play when they should be asleep, need feeding, need changing, need dressing – need, need, need!
Here’s the thing – Steve, an adult, who seems educated and actually a good person spent 7 years trying to be a parent, did he think that children are born already taught?
Steve, do you not have your own habits, peculiarities, demands? Your son, who like Steve Jobs (as you mentioned) is so peculiar, would he have just been born like this? And so what? So what if he wants his plate or cup or whatever in a certain place? If this was your boss (since you call parenting a job) would you be writing a blog about him or would you be worried that he would read it and give you the boot?
No you wouldn’t Steve, you think it’s ok and funny and acceptable and NOT TERRIBLE to moan about your children because they are not going to sit you down and give you a run down of how you are doing your ‘job’ and do an appraisal on you! I’m certain that, like any other human being, you will have your good and bad points and your children accept them and love you unconditionally and they wouldn’t do a drawing of you at your worst.
I can see clearly that you love and are devoted to your children and that you are not a terrible parent but there’s something else you are doing – you are taking your children for granted! You are taking for granted their existence, their being, them coming down to you every morning, them being able to be themselves – demanding, peculiar, mischievous but also in your own words ‘delightful’.
I’m not going to hit you with the odds here – you are all fine and hopefully will make it to old age and your children will be healthy and look after you (and I sincerely hope so) and when this happens and you are old and demanding and set on your own ways I hope none of them sits down to write a blog on the demands and how tired to the bone they are from looking after you. It would make you sad, I am sure.
I am going to tell you that some parents, like myself and so many others I know, have very different demands to meet for their children, they include medicines, feeding tubes, physiotherapy doctors, hospitals, seizures, operations, grief and loss.
Parents like us are not ‘unlucky’ or so ‘rare’. The actual condition that affects our family is indeed extremely ‘rare’ but I have been to children’s hospitals a few times now and I can tell you that I have seen 2 years old as well as 13 years old who suffered strokes, 11 years old who had brain surgery, new borns with severe pneumonia, a boy who turned 18 with a metal frame around his face and now incapable of moving at all, his duvet has pictures of him playing rugby… These are children of parents who wish they had their children being peculiar and demanding in the natural way. They are parents who are exhausted for the lack of normality, the worry, the anxiety, the fear for their children’s lives. They are parents who regret those times when they have ever felt that it’s not terrible to look forward to bed time. I would invite you, Steve, to read an old blog post of mine that touches this subject – We chose happiness instead. The cruel reality is that it can happen to anyone, to any parent, to any child. It doesn’t matter if you are religious or not, good or bad, if you have had a difficult life or faced hard times. I can tell you, because I know a lot of these parents, that it happens regardless.
I have a younger daughter, she is little still, and I know that she does not suffer from the same disease as her sister does, this is a relief of course, but it is not a guarantee! I don’t take her for granted, ever! I don’t wake up everyday thinking that I might lose her as I know I will lose my eldest, this is not what I am suggesting to you either, but whenever I have to get up for the 20th time because she is going back to that wire that is dangerous or am struggling for her to eat something that she devours when her dad is feeding her, I stop for a second and remember that I am her mother, I wished for her and conceived her and by bringing her to the world it is my ‘job’ to guide her, teach her and deal with her peculiarities, her demands, her being.
Being a parent is many times compared to a job (just like Steve does) and if it is to be so then it is the most important one in anyone’s career as it affects our children’s lives. If you have the job of a lifetime you work hard, you work long hours, you are proud and you tell everyone what you do. You won’t complain about your boss openly as you are too afraid to lose it, it is precious! Parenting should be all of this and more but most importantly not one to be taken for granted!