Feb 10, 2010

The Hardest Part of Being a Parent

Before I had kids, I thought the hardest part about being a parent was having to deal with the crying, whining, back talk, and lack of sleep. And don't get me wrong, they are hard to deal with.

But the worst part of parenting is feeling helpless to help your child.

The first time I experienced that helplessness was when Alex had a conflict with another child, and I just knew that the right thing to do was to let him handle it - even though I desperately wanted to step in and make things right myself.

But there's a little solace in that kind of helplessness, because it's accompanied by the knowledge that such growing pains are necessary for my child's proper development as a person.

That kind of solace doesn't exist with medical conditions. I learned that last year, when my son was hospitalized. My only comfort was in knowing that what we were dealing with was incredibly minor compared to what most other patients in the same ward were handling. And we were lucky, because after some serious conditions were considered and then ruled out, we were left with what was, in the grand scheme of things, a relatively minor diagnosis.

Sometimes, I wish I could go back in time and put things in perspective for my younger self: Nothing I endured before becoming a parent compares to the pain of not being able to help my own child.

What do you think is the hardest part of parenting?


Anonymous said...

You nailed it. That is definitely the hardest part. When my 2 year old son had reactive hepatitis, lymphadenitis, and joint swelling this past fall, it nearly tore my heart out. He was miserable, and there was nothing I could do. With all the sleeping, weight-loss, refusal to eat, and not wanting to even be touched, I've never felt so horrible. There was nothing to do but pray. He's better now, thank God, and I hope I never have to watch any of my children hurt so much again, though I know I probably will. Parenting is HARD.

Farmer Brown said...

well i'm inside with 3-4 feet of snow outside in a basement apartment with a VERY antsy 7 year old. i think my opinion my be a little biased right now.

Mommyto3 said...

learning that you will be the bad guy at one point in time. and it stinks every time too..

Chief Family Officer said...

@Cindy - I'm so glad your son is better!

@Yvonne - Yep, I probably should have said you can't answer in the heat of the moment! Hang in there!

@Mommyto3 - Oh boy, is that the wisdom of the mom of a teenager? That IS going to stink.

Jeannie said...

I'm just here to echo CFO and Cindy's comments. My daughter has leukemia, and has been undergoing treatment for half of her life (she's 4). It's true, seeing her go through so much has been the hardest thing I've ever had to do.

But at the same time, it's amazing to me how tough such a pretty little girl can be. From learning to swallow a pill at two years old, to laughing about her hair falling out (it's just hair, mommy, it'll grow back), to looking forward to "spinal tap day" because she gets to go to the toy closet.

My daughter really is my hero, and going through this together has made all of us thankful for all the small things, every single day.

Chief Family Officer said...

@Jeannie - Oy, I'm so sorry your little girl (and you) have so much to contend with. She'd be my hero too!