The other day while I was driving around Winnipeg, I saw a billboard about some new online parenting site – “helping you with the toughest, but most important job.” Or something like that.
Now, I totally get what they were trying to say. Parenting can be difficult. And tiring and demanding and all that.
But when we label it as “the toughest job”, I think bad things start to happen. For example:
1. We start to feel sorry for ourselves.
Oh poor me, I have the toughest job ever!!
Well, last time I checked, this was exactly what I spent my whole life dreaming I could do – be a wife and mom, and love my kids like crazy from morning till night.
Yes, it is difficult at times, but labeling it “the toughest job” is a little extreme. It also makes it sound as though I should feel very much like a victim. Woe is me, I have such a hard life as I do the toughest job ever.
2. It makes it about comparing.
And that happens often enough without encouragement. How often have I wanted to pass off all parenting responsibilities to Ben, the very second he walks in the door from work, and flee to the solitude of the forest as fast as my legs will carry me?
Some days I am very badly in need of a break. But some days…so is Ben. This little voice inside tells me to suck it up, and think about him. But my day has been so hard! I’ve cooked and cleaned and disciplined, and potty training is hopeless, and the girls won’t stop arguing, and there’s NO WAY his day was as hard as mine!!!
Because it’s a comparison? It sure will be, all the time, if I’m out to prove that I have the toughest job ever.
3. When comes the fun part?
Tough, important…True, but there is so much more to it than that! I get to paint and draw Rapunzel (a million times a day), I get to snuggle on the couch with my girlies and read books, I get a nap in every single day, I get to watch my girls learn and grow, and listen to the hilarious things they say. What else would I want to be doing with my life right now?
And not just because this is important. It is, but it’s also just plain wonderful.
I need to be reminded of that sometimes, though. When we all get the flu, or we didn’t get enough sleep and everybody’s grumpy, or when I feel like I have cleaned up too many messes and answered too many questions, and I just want a few minutes to myself, I do have moments when I think my life is hard.
But those moments are completely out of perspective.
And some day, I will sit in my perfectly clean, completely quiet house, and I think I will look back on these days as the happiest of my life.
Wouldn’t it be nice to truly feel as though these are the happiest days of my life while I’m actually living them? Not just when I look back on them, but as I’m living in this moment?
So on days when I start to think, “I have the toughest job ever!”, I am trying to tell myself over and over, “These are the happy days!”