I’m not a parent, and I may never be one in this life. But I can say with conviction that being a parent is possibly one of the hardest jobs on earth (If you want to do it well, that is).
Apart from the physical challenges of parenting – like, taking care of their every meal from birth. Not being able to sleep when your child is not home by a certain time. Staying up to check on them when they fall sick. Ferrying them around to various places and events, especially when they are young… Apart from these physical tasks, being a parent can also be immensely emotionally draining. Fulfilling and meaningful, of course, but the emotional roller coaster ride is definitely not for the faint-hearted.
And for those who think that parenting actually gets easier when your children grow up, I beg to differ. So many more factors come into play. How should you behave in front of your child’s friends so as not to embarrass them. How to maintain effective communication with your child such that you’re not seen as nagging or probing, but expressing just enough concern about their daily activities to make them feel loved and cared for. How to support them in whatever they want to do, even if you fear for their safety and doubt the viability of certain actions. All these and a million and one other concerns. No, I don’t think parenting gets easier.
Maybe its just me, or the home I come from. Maybe there are parents out there who do feel that they can fully let go once their child turns 18 and get their driver’s license. Or maybe its just an Asian thing. But I see my parents’ job not getting easier, and there are times when I feel almost apologetic for what I put them through. It can be really hard to accept that a being you created, a being which you used to be able to claim for yourself, grow and develop their own ideas, beliefs, personality and make their own decisions. Perhaps the toughest part of being a parent is the balancing act – Holding on to that being you’ve created and love, and yet letting them go as they grow. This is something parents might have to do on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times a day, as an individual asserts their independence, one step at a time. Parents have to make the conscious decision to let go, when all their parenting instincts tell them otherwise. When it is human nature to want to possess the people we love, and keep them by our side. Tough, indeed. I’m not sure I’d be able to do it.
And so, I’m immensely thankful that my parents are my parents. I pray that I will be able to overlook all their shortcomings, as any normal human would have, and always remember only their sacrifice and love for us and the family.