All mothers and fathers hit occasional brick-walls in their relationships with their children. Of all the wonderful, dedicated parents I know, almost every one of them will occasionally admit, “Some days I don’t like being a parent.”
I’m crazy about my daughter, and I’ll be the first to admit that I never like “being a parent.”
However, I love parenting.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word “parent” acts as both a noun and as a verb. In my mind, it is the act of parenting– not my identity as a parent– that matters. If mothers and fathers resign themselves to the inescapable title of being parents, it tends to preclude every other aspect of their identities.
If I were to focus on “being a mother”– at the expense of being myself– that might mean wearing pleated jeans and driving a minivan. Mothers who are determined to “be” mothers, rather than to mother their children, allow cultural assumptions to dictate every aspect of their interests and identities. These stereotyped behaviors do not relate to parenting, but they do relate largely to the oppressive culture and title of “being a parent.”
Parents shouldn’t place all their joy in being parents. Rather, they should emphasize the importance of parenting– as a verb. Parenting is the act of loving, nurturing and influencing our children– and it can, and should be, the highlight activity of any mother or father’s lifestyle.
I spend most of my waking hours parenting my two-year-old daughter. I delight in her every smile, giggle and thoughtful statement. I ride a roller coaster of emotions as I cope with tantrums, up-all-nights and toddler hunger strikes. Through all this, I take joy in teaching her to speak, read and understand the emotions of others. This act– the act of parenting– gives me more pleasure than anything else I do in life.
If you don’t like being a parent, don’t blame yourself for this common but distressing feeling. Instead, rethink your priorities and your relationship with your children. It’s likely that you, too, enjoy parenting, but feel clouded and trapped by the label of “being a parent.”
I believe that mothers and fathers can reach a true state of satisfaction by abandoning oppressive labels and instead focusing on what’s important– nurturing our children while maintaining our own individual identities.