The hardest job on earth

Published 3:39 pm Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It has nothing to do with frozen crabs on frozen ships, dodging dangerous IED’s while serving our country, running up the stairs to a fire when everyone is running out of the building, although these are the extremely important and dangerous careers in our world. This job is one of the most important, if not, the most. It is the job of raising our kids and it is the hardest job on earth.

It seems that thousands of books have been written to guide us through the land mines of child rearing, programs, videos, and how to’s that keep drumming into us the tools of being a good parent. Intelligent gents who dedicated their life studying the fine art of parenthood will advise in detail all the things we are suppose to do and not do. The Dr. Spocks of the world know everything about being a mother although they have never been a mother. Hmm.

Isn’t that like studying to be a doctor but never writing a prescription? Or, never trusting a skinny chef.

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Spiritual leaders, such as James Dobson will pen hundreds of pages to give us a clue about the small little creature that has landed at our door. Scholars who have studied the Bible and use insight to aid our discovery of the role of parenting. These vulnerable and helpless babies arrive without instructions and solely dependent on our sanity and skills to give them a decent life.

They are blank pages for the most part, ready for us to color between the lines, however, genetics have already laid a plan of some characteristics such as size, shape, and intelligence. From there, it is environment versus inheritance, plus throw in whatever life has to offer as bumps. We are given a human being and nothing else. What do we do with it?

It is a tough, heartbreaking adventure with many rewards, but don’t let anyone fool you that it’s all rosy and Hallmarkish. After all, the first part of having a kid is called ‘labor’ and from my perspective, producing a child was excruciatingly painful, hard on my body, mentally frightening and that was the easy part.

For all you non-parents, am I trying to scare you? Of course, you should be scared. People today enter marriage lightly, it is so easy to do. They take more care with finding a job sometimes than finding a partner. Having a child is so matter of fact and not seriously thought out for many couples. It just seemed like the next step of the happily ever after plan.

The role of parent is a lifetime commitment, no parole for good behavior and for some children who never seem to grow up, your only answer is to move away and forget to tell them your new address. Oh, no one would do such a thing, right? I can name one, but because they are still in hiding, I will refuse to give name.

I find some mothers parent with ease, and their children remain structured, well-behaved and they look like a version of Stepfords, robot like and scary. You probably know a family like that. Kids whose clothes never look dirty, hair always combed, no public displays of greedy give-me’s. These quiet little duds must be perfectly boring.

We all know from struggles and trials comes great character, so these poor little kids may grow up to be straight laced little human beings who never cheat on their taxes and never end up on Jerry Springer.

I will never be accused of having one of those families. I wear my imperfection with pride knowing that my kids were raised in the only manner that was possible, by the seat of their pants. I experimented, read Dobson books, usually responded to issues rather than prevented them and never, not once, felt like I knew what I was doing.

After raising four boys, I tried to improve my technique but always felt the weight of the responsibility that I was producing another human being and my mistakes were to go into infinity, spinning into the future as I prayed that God would take up the slack. Have you ever asked God like I have, “What were you thinking giving ‘me’ these little children?”

It is the hardest job on earth. It keeps me up at nights, rethinking, worrying, wondering, and wishing I had done a better job. My hair is grayer, my heart is weaker, my wrinkles deeper, and my brain is mushier, all from doing the work of being a parent. Good parent? That remains to be seen and may only be known by my epitaph on my tombstone.

Yet, I am proud parent. They all are amazing sons. Zach has been touched by the family’s music talent and writing ability. He speaks well and continues to meet hardships, rise above them and mature. Luke speaks math, to me an alien language, and is dedicated to solving the world’s problems. The twins, born together, raised exactly alike have their differences. Cade is social, loves the woods and hunting and loves attention while Conner is shy, loves sharks and rocks and doesn’t want people to notice him at all.

I found a few more pieces of advice about the hardest job on earth:

The smartest advice on raising kids is to enjoy them while they are on your side.

Avenge yourself and live long enough to be a problem to your kids.

Life’s golden age of parenting is when the kids are too old to need a baby-sitter and too young to borrow the family car.

Any child can tell you the sole purpose of a middle name is so they can tell when they are really in trouble.

Two things a child will willingly share: Communicable diseases and his mother’s age.

To be only half as wonderful as my child thought I was when he was small and half as stupid as my teenager thinks I am now.

Tracy Williams is a syndicated columnist and can be reached at her website: or become a fan on Face Book at My Hometown Column.