Given an abundance of anecdotal reports, oodles of books and movies on the topics, and my own experience as a sibling and child, I’m confident in asserting I’m not the first devoted parent to:
- Be told “You don’t CARE about me!”
- Wonder if one’s teenagers will ever grow up
- Feel it is impossible to accomplish anything, especially during the summer months, when kids’ appetites, social calendars, sibling squabbles, laundry, and recreational and work schedules threaten to overwhelm even the most organized adults and household (and that’s not necessarily ours).
As we struggled last Sunday to find time–any short bit of it–to celebrate Father’s Day, I began pondering why there isn’t a parenting MONTH, or at least a “Kick Back and Relax” parent weekend, rather than just one skimpy Mother’s Day and Father’s Day annually. Don’t we deserve it?
And considering that Mother’s Day in Minnesota competes with the sacred fishing opener, and Father’s Day so often coincides with graduations, reunions or soccer tournaments, a portion of one day dedicated to remembering we owe our parents some gratitude for putting up with our youthful antics hardly seems like enough.
Don’t misunderstand me–I’m not seeking thanks or accolades for my own two decades (and counting) of parenthood. Certain singles and couples who have consciously opted to remain childless have occasionally reminded that becoming a parent is a CHOICE and not something randomly imposed upon us.
Still, it’s likely the rare parent who never sighed in resignation when viewing a single colleague’s Hawaiian vacation photos, or looked up from a jumble of dirty dishes and empty milk jugs wondering how they landed in that particular world of barely functional chaos.
Indeed, results of a study released Jan. 13, 2014, by research partners Princeton University and Stony Brook University concluded “…parents experience more daily joy and more daily stress than nonparents.” Uh-huh!
As if to drive home that scholarly point, writer Jennifer Senior’s January 2014 book “All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood” examines, sometimes lightheartedly, “the effects kids have on parents.”
I have three kids, and another curiosity of parenthood I have yet to figure out is how, when all of them are home, it can sometimes seem and sound as though there are 10 children in the house. I just don’t know how the Duggars do it.
Thankfully, those moments of joy do occur, though with three teenagers, it sometimes feels they’re fewer and further between than when the offspring were younger. Having recently endured complaints about food variety, household tasks, teen boys’ sock odors, TV/computer time and the lack of a puppy, I sought refuge in reviewing (with those same, computer-savvy kids) family photos from yesteryear that have never made the jump from computer files to albums.
Look! There was the little guy, decked out in a monster costume, a cherubic smile spread across his innocent face, sweet enough to tempt a shower of kisses from the most jaded mother. And in a short video, there were the two youngest, earnestly sharing a story book with their infant cousin, taking turns cradling and reading to the attentive baby in charming, immature voices that have since dramatically altered.
Another photo showed our daughter, all of 7, posing gracefully in front of a lilac bush and appearing lovely and confident in a lavender dance outfit before a dance recital.
And how about that oldest lad, making the transition from glasses to contacts in seventh grade, showing the promise of the handsome young man he was destined to become?
My heart softened as the momentary irritations drained away–and theirs did, too, seeing the photos with their supportive parents always at hand, the birthday cakes baked, the zoos visited, the books read to them, the love shared.
“We were so little–and so cute!” exclaimed my daughter.
Not as though, even on the toughest days of parenting, I could ever forget how positively lovable, delightful and endearing they were–and always will be to me.
Just reassure my kids I’m not the only mom who makes mistakes and embarrasses someone on a daily basis. Happy “Summer of the Parent” to you, too!