Parenthood: The Classified Ad


classified

When perusing the want ads or Monster.com, you may come across a veritable slew of postings for jobs. Many of them use the same catch-phrases and most of them require certain skills or education. But parenthood – ah, sweet parenthood – is one venture that is without any attachment of words or breakdown of expectations. It simply is the last frontier when it comes to trades. Despite being the oldest of all occupations, it still remains virtually uncharted, laced together with the thoughts that instinct will provide the best roadmap of all. However, too often, it is apparent that common sense is not so common. Instinct is not enough. And, all because people often don’t know what they are getting themselves into ahead of time. 

It’s not fair the way parenting is sprung on humanity, all of whom assume it will be an easy and natural course. Personally, it was not easy or natural for me. Despite having read a ton of books on the matter before our daughter was born, I didn’t have a clue what to do with her once she was here. And, though I figured it out with some very harrowing on-the-job training, it still didn’t make it easier the second time around with my son. I didn’t become a pro. I hadn’t magically transformed into a person who could figure out the different cries or solve issues relating to gas pains or separation anxiety. I simply lead a life that I had never dreamed – off the cuff and totally without direction. I was just winging it every day. And even now, I find that I still am. 

So, what is expected. What job requirements would universally need to be met by people seeking to partake of the parenting trade? If parenting were to be summed up in the form of a classified posting, what would it look like? 

Possibly, for the person embarking on this journey for the first time, it would look something like this: 

WANTED: Person to fulfill multiple roles in a start-up company. Seeking multi-tasker with self-starting potential. Able to juggle many duties at once, often-times one-handed and with a veritable sense of sleep-deprivation. Must be able to carry ever-increasing load of floppy yet struggling-to-break-free weight. Iron-clad stomach, able to clean up messes without batting an eye. Also must not be averse to loud noises that may carry on without end. Daily minstrel shows required for the entertainment of the CEO. Entertainment needs may span anywhere from silly faces to a full-length Broadway revue. Flexibility expected in terms of what each day may require. People with a sense of shame, seek employment elsewhere. Benefits include short, if any, lunch breaks. Cold dinners. Quick showers. No sick days. No vacation. No pay. But dress code is lax – pajamas are welcomed! 

***

Of course, once more than one kid was added into the mix, the description would change into this:

WANTED: Person to fulfill multiple roles within an established corporate structure. Must be able to handle a fast-paced environment meanwhile able to retain productivity within the expected levels. Tasks will always need to be completed despite challenges. Expect to be one-handed, sleep-deprived and endlessly questioned simultaneously. Ability to listen attentively to more than one person talking at a time is also a must. Other assorted duties may include performance of events coordination, janitorial management, housekeeping, nutritional consultation, security, arbitration, car service and other miscellany that may arise off the cuff as needed. Flexibility is the main requirement for the job. Those who do not like chaos, seek employment elsewhere! Hours are sun-up to sun-down, with a permanent “on-call” schedule as the need may arise. Benefits include bonuses in the form of drawing and home-spun crafts, smiles, hugs and an occasional “thank you.” Meals, though, are not always complete. Bathroom breaks will not go unsupervised. Sick days and vacations are minimal. And dress code expectations are increasingly stringent due to carpool and extra-curricular activities. However, once vested, in roughly thirty years, the pensions are wonderful: grandchildren! 

*** 

As far as jobs go, parenting sometimes sucks. Especially in the beginning. It’s full of difficulty and hardship. It calls for insurmountable struggles and endless challenges. Its bosses are Napoleonic and often pigheaded, always holding the belief that they are the center of the universe. But, oddly enough, unlike other bosses in your past, you will find that they are correct; for, they are the center of your universe. And though you will struggle, it will be worth it because they will make it so.  There will be times you will want to quit, sure. But when those “bonuses” start to roll in (like the first time they say “I love you,” draw your picture or thank you for bandaging their boo-boo), oh my – what a wonderful world it will be! 

You may not ever have all of the answers. It’s quite possible that you will never be an expert in this field. But, thankfully, when you embark on parenthood, at least you will have a boss who is understanding and will allow you to train on-the-job. A boss who won’t judge you on your lack of experience. A boss who will cherish you as the years advance. A boss who will find you indispensable. Forever. And, best of all, at least you will have a boss that you love. And cherish. And can’t imagine living (or working) without. Now, who else besides a parent can say that about their profession?!

Advertisements

Babies On Strike


strike

We’ve reached that point. The baby is on strike! Before motherhood, I couldn’t have imagined what that would have possibly meant. Maybe the baby decided to stop crying? Or he figured out that clothes were the enemy and he decided to stop allowing his parents to dress him? Possibly even the baby just stopped growing since, after all, life only goes down-hill once you allow the aging process to continue…

 No. It’s not anything as simple as those options. Painfully, having a baby go on strike means he is railing against one thing alone: breast milk. And if you are the cow-udder mama who is the one to suffer the brunt of his angst, you will know of the suffering that is to follow.

Basically, it goes down like this: You will be doing your whole motherly routine. Eating burritos. Scarfing down chocolate chip cookies. Taking antihistamines for ragweed. Training for a 5K. Whatever. The main thing is that you are trying to live your life. Doing the best a mother can do. Trying to quench your needs as well as your children’s. Then, as with all things which try patience and will, you get a curveball thrown your direction from nowhere. Your big baby, who loves boobies more than even the best Hustler subscriber, suddenly and without warning wants nothing to do with it. And you think, “Maybe he’s just not that into me.”

 But, like any good woman, that won’t stop you. You give him a “break” and try again later. This time, getting out your special comfy breastfeeding pillow that you haven’t used since his arrival from the hospital, you think maybe you just need to spice up his surroundings. Treat him to something special. After all, maybe he’s uncomfortable in the position most natural to the mammalian world. So, you try the pillow only to have him pull away from you screaming and screeching. Clearly not the response you expected!

 Your next line of thought directs you to question the position that he has been using. You pull out the trusty breastfeeding manual that a lactation consultant once gave you. A variety of baby holds are shown on a chart that resembles the Kama Sutra. You are mildly disgusted, reflecting on Shanna Moakler’s words regarding breast-feeding as a mildly incestuous practice. Though you once scoffed at her ignorance, with this chart in hand you now feel that the listed moves would curdle the stomachs of even the most adherent mothers in the La Leche League. But you hold your nose and try some of the less-traveled roads anyway. The football hold. (Go Bears!) The cross-cradle. (Awkward.) The over- the-shoulder. (Double awkward!) And don’t even ask about the “all fours.” (Can I get a Moooooo?!)

 Despite being creative and persistent, nothing works. Now he is really building up some pent-up frustration and alerts you to this fact by the ever-increasing volume of his yelling. The decibels build and, if you are lucky enough to force your breast into his mouth for a nanosecond, the only thing that happens is the despised clamping motion of his jaw followed by a high pitch shrieking that continues ad infinitum. All the while, hours have gone by without either sucking or eating. The merry-go-round of crying, pinched nipples and frustration meets an apex. His union is definitely not caving in until you meet his demands – whatever they are. Needless to say, you are spent. And your boobs hurt.

 There will come a time when even the most patient mother will envision selling her child to the Gypsies or letting him spend a night in the forest with a pack of wolves. But, knowing that even the most formidable beast won’t have him, and that the law is not on your side, you can only repeat a serenity mantra to yourself during this madness. “This, too, shall pass” is what kindly old grandmothers will tell you. Sympathetic friends will offer sage advice with the notion that in a year from now this will all be forgotten. Retro kittens, even, will tell you to “hang in there, baby.” But in your mind, the best words of all are simply “Just you wait, baby. Just you wait!” It’s not a threat. Not even a thinly veiled wish. Just an inalienable truth.

 Yes, one day this shall pass, and you will forget, and you must hang in there; but, the best thing to remember is that one day, in some form or fashion, someone will go on strike against them. And if they think whatever they are crying about is so terrible, just wait! Life will get worse. It always does.

In the meantime, Mama, these strikes are about as consistent as the ones in France. They come. They go. Not always in that order and not by any sort of rhyme or reason. But, eventually, things do return to business as usual. You will once again be a milking cow whose udders hurt from the tugging and suckling associated with the world’s most natural act. You will nourish that hard to please individual they call a baby. And you will do so knowing that you stuck it out, hung in there, survived in the trenches when no one else thought you would – not even your baby. And, if you make it out alive, swelled with the pride of such a tremendous act (not to mention the engorgement that will surely follow), then my only word of advice is to never look down again. Because those knockers, honey, well they may not be quite as resilient as your will…

Fuss Buddy


scream

It’s 2 a.m. The middle of the night. You get a call from that “someone special.” He’s a guy that you think is cute – so cute, in fact, that he has you jumping through hoops. Each day, you get butterflies when you see him. You hope he likes you as much as you like him. But, often, you get rejected. The cold shoulder. A stink-eye. A frown of disdain. However, tonight he’s called you for a middle-of-the-night rendezvous. You were in the middle of a wonderful dream but he jarringly woke you up on a whim. He’s interested in you, but only on his terms. And right at this very moment he wants you bad. 

Maybe ten years ago I would have been talking about a crush, a guy you occasionally dated, a booty call. But now, however, jumping ahead into your present life, I’m talking about your baby. Your sweet sack of want and need. Or, in other words, your “fuss buddy.” 

Your fuss buddy wants you, all right. But he wants you for all the wrong reasons. He doesn’t care that you have a Master’s degree in engineering or that you are a gregarious conversationalist. It doesn’t matter that you can play the piccolo or recite entire dialogues from Shaw’s plays while standing on your head. Nor does he pay any mind to your appearance, level of fatigue, or the subtext of your repetitive sighs. Nope. He only cares about one thing: milk. And his desire for it is insatiable, seeming to be as endless as the day-to-day moments they call life. 

So, you come to him. You have no choice. He holds you in the palm of his tiny hand. You are his to do with as he pleases. Like a zombie, you traipse across the carpeted hall hoping that this time will be quick. Though you love him, though you tell yourself you don’t mind catering to his many needs, the time has come when you are approaching a desire to have a few of your needs met, too. You plan to have a little talk with him. Maybe today will be the night!

 You enter the room. This is it. You want to tell him how you really feel. You want to open your insides and let it all shine through. But, just when you’re about to dish out a heaping spoonful of your honest emotions, you hold back. You’re afraid you might scare him off. And, after all, you really do like him. You hope he’ll keep calling you. If only he would do it during the sunny, day-lit hours instead of the crusty under-belly of nightfall. 

Your needs – you try to remember them. Maybe a six-hour stretch of blissful slumber in those new sheets you bought last year. A hot meal that can be consumed with enough leisure to enjoy a meal’s flavors and textures. Perhaps a quiet, uninterrupted viewing of American Idol or The Walking Dead. Something you can call your own. Something that reminds you of yourself before you met this guy. Alas, the you that once lived no longer exists. And the needs you once found to be so crucial now only reside in the deep banks of your memory. All that remains is who you are because of this guy.

Sleep-deprived. Dowdy. A little resentful. Clumsy. Even, at times, hopeless and melancholy. But, on top of all of these things, and perhaps even despite them, you are aimlessly, ridiculously, so completely in love with this guy – the same guy who screams at you, disrespects your needs and even releases disgusting bodily fluids on you daily – you can hardly think straight. 

You are a woman in love. The milk stains are just a badge that depicts this love more truly than any other merit badge you may have
achieved in the past. Yes, love. It’s what you feel despite the torture. It’s what you embody despite the suffering. It’s what you give despite the lack of its immediate return. You will do anything for this guy – this fuss buddy – and you will do it because of that one emotion. The only difference between now and ten years ago is that, this time, it is the real deal. And, this time your guy will love you back. Eventually.