Being A Parent Is Not A Verb
The culture of parenting involves ferrying our offspring about, organizing play dates for them, fretting over our capacity to deliver the correct doses of indulgence and discipline, the proper balance of activities and one-on-one time, acquiring the perfect baby sling to foster attachment and the optimal stimu-baby toys for brain development.
Being a parent is not a verb. When a child is born so too are parents made. You become a parent. You are a parent. You will always be a parent. Being a parent is not something you stop doing when you take off your running shoes.
Being a parent happens whether you own up to it or not. They write it down in the papers in the hospital. Your parent destiny is written in DNA and wound into your child’s genes. There are those who choose to turn their backs on this tie, and those who become parents by choice, or marriage, or circumstance and not genetics. Unconditional love and responsibility for a child is a code written into hearts and cells just as surely as by DNA.
If you have a child, you are a parent. Parent is a word that defines and encompasses those who choose to stay at home, or work, those who have nannies or not, it includes fathers and mothers each in their own unique way, and whatever choices parents make, the fact of being a parent doesn’t change.
Parenting sounds aerobic, or like something Jane Fonda would have advocated in her spandex days: feel the burn, parent harder, faster, more efficiently and with sleeker abs. Parenting sounds competitive, like something you might do better than I, or like pole vaulting, the outcome of which might be determined by the tools you use. Baby music tapes played in vitro, for example, are a way of getting a head start on your parenting.
Parenting sounds measurable. Being a parent and loving your children is not.
People talk about their parenting choices. It is not a choice, it is a responsibility, a privilege, yes, even a gift, which if we are lucky enough to have the time and enough good days in a row to contemplate, is one which we must try to honour by raising our children with dignity, respect and love. This is what makes me terribly impatient with the work-at-home-parent/stay-at-home-parent vocabulary and so-called Mommy War between the parents who work and those who are with their kids full-time. It is a divisive argument and the resulting parenting camps make us lose sight of our common goal (for surely this is our common, indeed Darwinian goal) to be good parents. To raise quality people for the generations to come.
As Kahlil Gibran’s famous poem On Children reminds us:
“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
… You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable."
however much we may bend and flex under the strains and love and challenge of parenthood, we must be the sable bow.
This is an original soapbox post by EarnestGirl for CanadaMomsBlog. When she is not feeling guilty, doing laundry, and driving kids thither and yon while quietly chanting be the bow under her breath, she also writes at YummyMummyClub.