The Hardest Job

empathy, expectations, imperfection, Lisa Bullard, mothering, parenting, working -

The Hardest Job

By Lisa Bullard

Parenting is the hardest job I've ever done. That sounds dramatic when I admit it out loud, but it is 100% true.

My Mom tells me that parenting is not just the hardest, but also the most important job I will ever do in my life.

She has been very successful in her career as a professor of Early Childhood Development. She has authored a textbook and travels nationally presenting at conferences. She even won the award for the National Professor of the Year last year.

But she explains to me that even though she feels she has made a difference in her work, and loves her career, her parenting is the most important thing she has done. She explains to me that the way she was parented affected her life, and then affected how she parented, which affects the way I parent, and the way my daughter will parent. The impact of one parent who cares and tries and gives lasts for generations to come.

So there's that.

For those restless, difficult nights of soothing a crying child - for those times where I wonder if my choice is the right one, where I debate if I am using the right discipline techniques, where I wonder if I am giving enough or too much - all the questioning without any real answers, and the trying as hard as I can - there is the comfort and reward of thinking that this job I am doing, parenting, is worth everything that I give it.

Donna Bruschi adds:

Parenting is the hardest job I've ever done, too. New parents ask me all the time: "Does it get any easier?" Having a child who is legally an adult now, I feel qualified to answer that question.

It can be easier, but no, it does not get easier just because your baby grows.

You can struggle for the rest of your life with the way you think parents "ought to be."

What makes it easier is when you start to accept your baby or child for who they are. When you let go of YOUR expectations and desired outcomes for your baby, parenting becomes a whole lot easier. That doesn't mean giving up and collapsing in a heap of self pity. It means that you study your child, find out what makes them "them" and work with what you have.

One gift I received by being a mother, was to become more human.

I used to hide my mistakes. I used to judge other parents who couldn't "control their children." I used to do it all myself and never, ever, ask for help.

When I accepted my imperfectness, mothering got a whole lot easier because I wasn't wasting energy holding up a facade.

It wasn't easy learning to do all that. I did it because my kids expected me too. They called my bluff. I realized that it was silly to pretend I was so strong and perfect, when really, I am human. I am grateful I made that shift!