To be a parent is in many ways to belong to a unique club. Only once you’ve experienced the joys, hardships and sheer exhaustion, are you allowed to make the odd helpful comment to those that are coming up behind you. Now we all know there are some individuals out there whose comments are anything but helpful. Those types who glare at us in the grocery store when our youngest has decided to flip out over our choice of cereal. No, it doesn’t matter how you handle it, there’s always someone who thinks that they could have done it better than you. But let’s face it, the criticism parents face comes from many different areas of society and none irritates me more than hearing from the childless. Perhaps you’ve heard of that wonderful quote “I was a much better parent before I had children.” (Anonymous)
Yes, they know it all and we all have them, sisters, cousins, friends and they all know how to parent better than you. It’s enough to make you want to give them a wonderful dose of reality, a weekend with your kids when everybody’s sick and the washer has broken down…again. The kind of parental realism that’ll leave them tired, fed up and thoroughly penitent. In a perfect world, perhaps but how to deal with their comments in the meantime? Should one tactfully remind them that parenting is a 365 day a year job? That there are no days off and no sick days that you can crawl gratefully in to bed, whilst someone else keeps your three year old occupied with a simulating craft.
Parenting is, to use the words of Charles Dickens “the best of times and the worst of times.” It’s a roller coaster ride from beginning to end. It is a continuing adventure that for me, has been a privilege to have undertaken. Where else can you have such an enormous impact on the life of another? In what other endeavor can you learn so much about yourself? It’s like attempting the summit of K2 in a pair of runners and a windbreaker, surviving the inevitable storms and coming home battered but oh, so much better off for the journey.
So next time you get some tactless individual gracing you with their parental wisdom or lack of it, just smile, content in the knowledge they have not been where you have been. Nor have they been graced with such a monumental opportunity to experience life in all it’s shades. And remember, think yourself lucky because you are.