1) It's nearly impossible to separate the personal from the professional. In traditional work settings, if you get a negative or critical review, people will often say "don't take it personal, it's just business." That rule doesn't apply with parenting. When your child or someone else gives you criticism on your parenting, it's usually very difficult to not take it personally. This is because a job is what you do, being a parent is who you are.
2) You can't leave your work at the office. Your office is your home and your home no longer exists as it once did. Your kids have taken over. Don't believe me? Check the walls and furniture for paint and crayon markings. Still don't believe me? Look in your trash, you'll probably find a remote or some electronic device in there.
3) You work overtime every day. There is no hour lunch. There is no vacation or sick time. Parenting for 8 hours a day would be considered part-time. Overtime is the regular day. Hopefully you get undisturbed sleep at night.
4) Your job starts when you open your eyes in the morning and ends when you pass out in the evening. This is the essence of parenting. Whatever your job, you probably have that moment where you wake up and do your morning rituals. With parenting, your work day starts when you open your eyes as a child or two have entered your room with a request, statement, or question. On exciting days, you are awakened by a ball whizzing by your head or the feeling of teeth biting your toes.
5) Your job description and duties are always changing. Now some people might find this exciting, especially if your work is monotonous and routine. In a moment, a parent can wear many hats and there is a chance that many or all of those hats don't fit.
6) There's no manual. To piggyback on the last point, a parent's role is constantly evolving and you are performing without a safety net. A quick search of “parenting books” in Amazon resulted in over 150,000 resources. If there are 150,000 books on any subject, it basically means we don't know what we are doing but we'll buy a book because it helps with the anxiety and helplessness.
7) Not only is the job pro bono, you pay money for the opportunity. The statistics are well-known. Raising a child from birth to 18 costs $100,000s, and those statistics were before the age of $500 cell phones and iPads.
8) You worry about job performance daily. I once asked a mentor, “When do you stop worrying about your kids?” Her response was, “You never do.” This doesn't mean you're in the fetal position in the corner most of your life, it just means that your mind is often occupied with thoughts about your children and your parenting skills.
9 This list doesn't even consider the teenage years. That's a whole other post.
Yes parenting is a privilege, but don't kid yourself, it's hard work.
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