God I wanted to parent so bad. It's an ache in my heart, a vibration and a yearning throughout my whole body. I don't romanticize the idea of parenting. I know it's a 24/7 gig that lasts for 25 years to life. I know it's hard work. I know it's expensive. I once joked to my dad that I was "the worst economic investment he ever made." He laughed and said, "Trust me, the investment wasn't economic." And then we both laughed together.
I don't think parenting is all cute moments and baby showers.
Parenting is hard work.
I've always felt like I was born to parent. The verb, not the noun. And now I get to kinda do that with my pediatric patients. With appropriate boundaries of course. I am most definitely not the parent. But I do get to play, teach, set boundaries, maintain high expectations, and positively reinforce every kid's progress, effort, attitude, and just the individual self that each kid is.
I get to parent the parents too. Respectfully and professionally of course. I get to hear about their problems, concerns, and excitement, pride, and happiness about their child. I get to positively reinforce all the good that they are doing and what all they are providing for their children. I get to validate their stress and exhaustion and I get to encourage and celebrate with them too.
A mother arrived late with her child to an appointment the other day. She was apologizing, saying how it had been a hectic morning. And I got to smile and say, "It's okay. You're here. And you got here safely. All of us did. I'm so proud of all of us for this moment right here."
Later she was sharing some of her current stresses with parenting and I simply said, "You're doing a great job." And do you know what she said? She said, "Thank you. I don't remember the last time someone said that to me." Ohmygosh, YES, I am here to support the parents.
That reminds me of another fun moment for me at work. I evaluated a child and walked him out to the car. His parents looked at me and asked, "How did he do?" And I immediately and genuinely belted out, "You all are lucky! Your kid is amazing!!" And they both smiled so big and said, "We think so too!" And everyone felt good in the moment.
How many times do parents only hear about the bad stuff? I thought about this often when I was teaching. Once I called a mom to tell her how much I enjoyed working with her son and she told me it was the first positive phone call she had ever received from the school.
So I just realized... Even before infertility, I enjoyed supporting parents.
Parents. The noun. The people with a very specific role and a multitude of responsibilities.
Parenting. The verb. The hard work that parents actually do.
I think a lot of people think they want to be a parent, but they don't think about the actual 24/7 parenting. I think people underestimate or just don't realize HOW MUCH and what all different kinds of work parenting demands. Not everyone of course. But a lot of people.
I really wanted TO parent. Yes, I wanted to BE a parent, but I also wanted to do the parenting.
Like I already wrote above, I kinda get to parent at my job. And then I get to come home to a quiet house that's only messy from me and my boyfriend. I get to do what I like/need to restore for the next day without taking care of someone else. The fact that I do have this daily respite in my life did not use to bring me any comfort at all. But now it does. I'm glad that changed! Lol. I really do appreciate my life and love my home a lot now.
But I will still share the fact that I shed some tears this morning. Not a full on cry, but several tears escaped. I told my boyfriend, "I just really wanted to parent." Verb form.