Parent of the Year: Waiting by the Mailbox
Sometimes I feel like such a failure as a parent. I’m convinced that at times parenting is the hardest, least appreciated job on the planet, and I feel pretty ill-equipped much of the time. I think I spend half my time waiting out by the mailbox.
Maybe you were with me up until the mailbox part. Let me explain.
It all started on Big Sister’s first Christmas. We were spending the night with Mrs. Right’s parents on Christmas Eve and driving the three-and-a-half hours to my parents’ house the next morning. Everything was clicking along right on schedule. Two-month-old Big Sister was tucked in for the night, and Mrs. Right and I weren’t far behind. (I suppose if I had been blogging back then that Big Sister would have been Only Child, but I digress…).
A little later, Big Sister awoke, screaming. She was not inconsolable, however. In fact, she became calm and peaceful when we held her. Great parenting. Time for bed.
Moments later, more crying. Actually, crying is a poor choice of words. Screaming. Wailing. No, a good Southern word fits best: Big Sister was squallin’. Once again, one of us held her for a while and returned her to her crib for a peaceful night’s sleep.
Years later, we would have detected an ear infection long before this point. But that night Mrs. Right and I alternated compassion toward our squallin’ daughter and–shall we say–frustration with said child. Would you please just settle down and stay asleep? I’m tiiiirred! This is Christmas morning for crying out loud! (Pun intended)
The next morning, while everyone else on Earth was celebrating a peaceful Christmas with their families, we drove thirty minutes in the wrong direction to the only clinic in the world that was open on Christmas morning. At least there wasn’t a long line. Of course not. It was Christmas morning.
Your daughter has a bad ear infection.
The mail wouldn’t run until the following day, but I felt the need to stand by it anyway. That Parent of the Year Award would certainly be in the next day’s mail. That was the the first one, but there have been many more. Like the time I told Older Brother in no uncertain terms to have the yard mowed by the time I got home from work. The yard wasn’t mowed. I went off. When he could get in a word edgewise, he informed me that the gas cans were empty.
Oh. My job. Back to the mailbox. Another Parent of the Year Award on the way.
Parent of the Year: Acceptance Speech
Big Sister and Older Brother are in their twenties now. She is growing her business, and he is away at school for much of the year. Parenting hasn’t stopped, just changed with them. The Parent of the Year awards come less frequently than they used to, though the Little Fella still provides plenty of opportunities to occasionally trudge to the mailbox. And wait.
The walks to the mailbox for all those Parent of the Year awards often take me back to my own childhood and teenage years. My acceptance speeches for my parenting prowess usually go something like this: “Mom and Dad, I’m sorry. For everything. Geez, that was me? Did you ever give up hope that I would EVER grow out of it? So there’s hope for me as a parent, too? Thanks for not giving up on me.”
Parent of the Year: Here’s Looking at You
Guess what? If you are a parent, you are your kid’s Parent of the Year. Every year. So even in your worst moments–and, no, you’re not alone–take a deep breath, back away from the mailbox, and get back to work. It’s the most rewarding job on the planet.[bluebox]
Al Ainsworth is the author of six books:
Coach Dave Season Four: Travel Ball[/bluebox]