Sometimes I don’t like being the grown up. I regularly sacrifice for my kids, and sometimes it feels natural and right. Other times it feels foreign and unfair. I know there are gracious, grateful children in the world, but none of them live at my house. I question whether this is original sin rearing its ugly head or if I have made some error in the way I raise my children that they have become so entitled.
I also have at least two children with sensory issues which means that yes, sometimes they really don’t hear me and a small request or correction can result in a huge meltdown. These are not an excuse, just a reality. There are days when I wonder what it’s all for and I get really tired of putting up with it.
My husband and I watched the show Parks and Recreation for the first time last year and there was a particular episode that spoke to me in an unexpected way. If you haven’t seen the show, all the main characters work for or are in local government, primarily in the parks and recreation department. One of the characters is complaining about how unfair it is, you work and sacrifice for the people of a city and they in turn complain and treat you with disrespect. The other character, rather wisely says
“You choose a thankless job, you can’t be upset when nobody thanks you. Don’t start chasing applause and acclaim. That way lies madness.”
That to me, was a perfect metaphor for parenting. I think many of us become parents for altruistic reasons, we want to make the world a better place and we think we can help shape the future by teaching our children to be kind and pursue justice. But there is also the more selfish element of looking to leave a legacy of ourselves and wanting our lives to be meaningful, having someone to love us. If you are looking for someone to unconditionally love you, get a dog don’t have a child.
I know that sounds harsh, but as I type this my son is eating, sniffing, talking with his mouth full and generally making other disgusting mouth noises. (Just to be clear, that’s the five year old, not the two year old). Both my older children have already told me they hate me today. We spend nearly as much on their therapies as we do on our mortgage. I wouldn’t wish them away but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard. Unconditional love definitely doesn’t come into the equation at least not on their end.
I chose this thankless job, and while, yes I would do it again, I sometimes forget what I signed up for. There are certainly beautiful, touching moments. But I need to remember that those moments are not guaranteed. Accolades are rarely part of the job. I don’t usually get
“Wow, great healthy dinner mom. We really appreciate all the hours of effort you put in.”
“Thanks for teaching us right and wrong even though it hurts. I know it will help us to be better people some day.”
I am the grownup, even when I really don’t want to be.
If I expect parades and accolades I’m in the wrong line of work.