Let's Talk Kids: "The Full-time Job"

May 3, 2017

He’s in the advertising business and she’s a nurse.  But in truth, there is for both of them a different role that is never out of their focus, 24/7.

They are parents to three pretty wonderful children, and those kids lie closer to their parents’ life purpose than any job that results in a paycheck.

One recent day, they were concerned about their oldest child’s recent sports injury.  His knee still wakes him at night. Walking to the bus stop is painful, so they take turns driving him to and from school.  They need to have the doctor sign a temporary P.E. waiver, and the insurance company is asking for an injury report before they’ll process payment for medical treatment.

That same day, their daughter was afraid to go to school because she’d been targeted by a bully.  There were tears the night before, so they strategized with her about how she might respond if the bullying happened again, assuring her they knew she was strong enough to manage it.

The little guy was happy as a clam at preschool, but couldn’t shake the rattling cough his doctor thought might be a hallmark of asthma.  Dad was on the internet searching “preschoolers with asthma” and “asthma diagnosis” while Mom called her sister in another state whose child was diagnosed about the same age.

Sign-up forms for the next sports season cluttered the kitchen counter, along with their daughter’s parent-teacher conference schedule form, and a progress report in math for their son.

When these parents finally fall into bed at night, their minds are flooded with questions about how to manage their children’s various needs.

Their jobs are demanding, but mostly contained by borders that separate them from their personal lives.  Not their parenting roles.  Those responsibilities seem to leech into every part of the day.

Parenting children may well be the hardest job anyone ever shoulders.  It asks us to become experts on things we never knew we needed to know—like knee injuries, bullying, and asthma.  This role may demand all our resources—our time, energy, wisdom, influence, and money.

But it also gives us back more than a paycheck.  Whether we do it well or do it poorly, raising children gives us a place in history.