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?!