As our house fills with kiddos this holiday season, I am reminded just how AMAZING parents are. Whether infants or adults, our children are living proof that we truly are exceptional human beings. And I’m not just talking about our expanded capacities for pride and love. Nosirree. I’m talking about the grace and fortitude that we embody as we manage the incessant plate spinning, hat-changing, and self-restraint that is required of the job. Sure, every person alive works hard to get to the end of each day without causing injury to one’s self or to others, but, parents, we take the cake for (mostly) keeping our shit together.
Above and beyond our commitment to maintaining employment, keeping a house, feeding relationships, paying bills, nourishing ourselves, and getting enough sleep to rinse and repeat, we also work tirelessly to master the duties of the parenting job description, the scope of which, let’s face it, is completely unachievable.
Yes, we heeded the call for a job opportunity that goes something like this:
Description: Currently accepting applications for a position of and for a lifetime: Parent. Successful candidates will come in all ages, shapes, and sizes and will possess an understanding that interest and passion for the work will ebb and flow. Please note: there will be no one system by which your success will be determined.
Objective: To raise a thoughtful, caring, productive human, while at the same time maintaining sanity and happiness and not resorting to homicide or suicide.
Key Responsibilities: These may include, but will not be limited to, the options of being:
- A Driver: Whenever and to wherever the call comes, you will be revved up, fueled up, and ready to hit the gas. And even when your kids have longed for transportation freedom, they still will want to be chauffeured, and you will comply. Meetings will be arranged around them, and social plans should be delayed if not scrapped altogether so that you can ensure your kids make it to play dates, get to the mall, and stay checked-up and teeth-cleaned with remarkable calendar precision.
- A Stock Manager: You will make sure the fridge is full, and you will manage the appliance like a professional Jenga player. Not a fragment of space will go to waste. Consequently, you will be the only person who is able to extract any of the contents, which will be made plainly clear because no one else will even try.
- A Cook: Regardless of how many times you will be whined at, gagged at, and cried at because your dinner will be deemed unfit for your children’s consumption, they still will want you to deliver the gruel. Even in the face of their disdain, you will persevere and shop, chop, and serve over and over again. Sometimes you even will offer alternative after alternative, just so your little buggers don’t starve.
- A Cleaner: There is no end-game, and you will know it, but you will never stop trying to prevent your house and your car from being swallowed by chaos and grime. And your offspring will not be contributors to your valiant efforts, since you will just sweep their messes up into your routine. They will be smart that way, the little cherubs.
- A Laundress/er: Whether or not you train your tykes to do their own, you still will manage the choreography of making the math work with one machine and a bottomless pile of clothes in need of attention. Please note that they will be totally happy wearing things over and over just to avoid those dastardly appliances, and they will remain blissfully unaware of just how disgusting their unwashed clothes smell and how that stench permeates the house. This will be your issue, of course, and so you will deal with it all.
- A Santa: Perfectly balanced present quantity and value…check. Cousins… aunties… uncles… check, check, check. Teachers…check. In-laws…crap. You will have to remember everyone.
- A Cheerleader: Once you start, you will never stop being the one person that believes in the amazingness of your children. Even though they will be unabashed in sharing their constant negative assessment of your work, you will tell them just how perfect they are. And they will be shameless about believing you, which is why you will be cooking, cleaning, and laundering for them.
- A Whipping Board: No matter how many times you will be told you are uncool, clueless, embarrassing, and/or a disappointment, you will keep working to serve the needs of your Prodigy of Amazingness. You will not rate… ever, and it will not matter. You will be impervious to the effects of eye-rolling and lip-curling.
- A Therapist: The world is unfair to The Amazing, and it will be your job to make sure they know it’s not them. They will never ever do things without just cause, and you will always be willing to track the undeniable source of their devastating disappointment back to yourself. You’ll haul them back and forth to therapists and counselors when your limited self doesn’t quite cut the mustard, and you’ll change the ingredients of your cooking and buy supplement after supplement to help ensure they never ever stop feeling good about their perfect selves.
- A Travel agent: You will triple mortgage your house if need be to make sure your darlings can go where they want when they want. You’ll examine flight sites, train schedules, and car service options to avoid all inconvenience or potential deprivation. You even will let them use your credit cards when they have fleeting moments of independence, though you always will be at the ready to step in to salvage whatever fledging attempt they will have made at planning.
- A Bank: You will be one. Period. Even the collapse of the stockmarket and banking system will be no excuse for not having available cash to meet their needs. They will need it, will want it, and will have to have it. And you will deliver like a bottomless ATM.
- A Mind-reader: You will be responsible for knowing and remembering absolutely everything, even when you don’t know about it. Permission slips, assignment due dates, and friends’ food allergies… you always will be one misstep away from the worn seat of the Parenting Time Out Chair. What would taste good at this very moment, what movie would be good to see, and what musicians are currently cool… guessing will not be good enough. You simply will have to KNOW.
- A Mediator: Your job will be to bring peace to the land. You will always see the solution, and you will sacrifice whatever it takes for the cause. You will stay calm when patience is low and tempers are high, and you will stay neutral when your Amazingness’s perspective is so wrong that it makes you cringe. You will sympathize and empathize at a level of thoughtfulness heretofore believed impossible.
- A Consummate Knower: In every situation, you will know what needs to be done. No room for inexperience or self-doubt; you will be the knower of all things… except of those things about which you will know NOTHING. You will accept that you have to function within this framework of extremes. And by no means will you ever take credit, and you will always accept blame.
- A Communication Captain: You will make sure your oh-so-deserving wee ones are grateful for others, ensuring thank yous are extended and appreciation is expressed. And when they are not, you will convey sentiments on your children’s behalf, often embellishing – okay, fabricating – feelings never actually felt, much less expressed. You will make calls and send emails for them when they whine about having to do so, and you will make sure they see when the other parent deserves to be acknowledged, even if they don’t. You will know when to stay silent, and you will never presume to get the meaning of their posts, snaps, or shares. And, by god, you must never EVER engage with them in their digital world (unless they ask or give you permission to do so).
- A Perfect Example: You will never drink, cheat, steal, lie, bully, or not look somebody in the eye. And when none of that is true, you will pretend. Above all else, you will never ever quit. Never. Even if you absent yourself for a brief moment, you will still be there, always in the ready position.
- Master of All Trades: You will remain mindful that this job changes at a moment’s notice, and there will be many, many more tasks as otherwise assigned by the dictator…. oops… director.
Assessment: There will not be a formal process, but you will be under review constantly – by yourself and by others. Success will be defined by your ability to plow through moments of utter exhaustion, annoyance, impatience, and shame in order to ask, “Please, sir, may I have another?” Any signs that you are contributing to a hostile working environment may result in long-term and irreparable damage, but you likely will never be fired. As such, you will resist the passionate urge to throttle your spawn and will keep your hands to yourself. Not focusing unwaveringly on solutions and/or abandoning the ship likely will result in your being stripped of your responsibilities (although never the job title), causing a lifetime of pain and suffering for everyone involved.
Preference: Ideal candidates will be able to loathe passionately while simultaneously loving from the depths of the soul.
Other Interests: Irrelevant
Salary: None. Non-negotiable.
Availability: Open until completely filled
Oooh. Pick me! Pick me!
I mean, really. Who in their right mind would ever sign up for that? Millions of us, that’s who. And most of us do so intentionally (albeit naively), raising our confident hands for the opportunity to play. And many more are waiting for their chance to join the team.
For those of us who answered this posting, voluntarily or otherwise, and for those who are considering submitting an application, yay, you! Yay, US! We get to live a dream, and all we have to do is commit to a life of blissful service. We know that privileged opportunities like this are not available to everyone and that the days filled with chaos, insecurity, and, yes, even regret are a gift, the likes of which knows no equal. So, we get up, buck up, and put our smiles on. It’s always game time. Amazing, I tell you. Simply AMAZING.
Speaking of which, gotta go remind my 20 and 22 year old Amazingnesses that it’s time to brush their teeth.
To read more about our Tiny House #1, view a gallery of that completed project’s progress photos, and join me in my musings, take a wander around my website.