We all have friends who don’t understand how difficult parenting is. And even those friends who KNOW it’s not all Ellen/Oprah and tea often fail to appreciate just how intensive this 24-7 job is. And it is a job make no mistake. It’s just like no other job on the planet.
For a start there’s no paid overtime. Heck, sometimes you’re lucky if you get a lunch break. You have to organise your own health plan. You are on-call ALL THE TIME. There isn’t a point where you get to knock-off, just temporary relief if they sleep or you have an amazing partner (or hired help). There are no financial bonuses for a job well done. In fact there’s often no recognition of your amazing feats at all.
And intensive? It’s downright unrelenting. There are no holidays – just your job in different locations. And no, you don’t get sick days: you have to suck it up and work through.
Have you ever wondered what such a job would read like as an advertised position? What sort of Selection Criteria it would have?
SC1 PROVEN ABILITY TO PERFORM MULTIPLE DIFFICULT TASKS SIMULTANEOUSLY. ADDITIONALLY APPLICANT MUST BE VERY FLEXIBLE AND ADAPTABLE.
SC2 PROVEN ABILITY TO PERFORM UNDER PRESSURE. APPLICANT MUST BE ABLE TO BE PATIENT AND EVEN-TEMPERED, POSSIBLY FOR YEARS ON END. SLEEP DEPRIVATION EXPERIENCE WOULD BE SEEN AS ADVANTAGEOUS. DITTO TORTURE EXPERIENCE.
SC3 HIGH-LEVEL NEGOTIATION SKILLS. DEMONSTRATED ABILITY TO INTERACT WITH RIDICULOUSLY STUBBORN CHILDREN REQUIRED. MIGHT SUIT THOSE USED TO DEALING WITH AUSTRALIAN POLITICIANS.
SC4 SUPERHUMAN TIME MANAGEMENT SKILLS. THE APPLICANT MUST BE ABLE TO EFFICIENTLY UTILISE ALL 24 HOURS OF THE DAY. SLEEP OPTIONAL.
SC5 DEVELOPMENT PLANNING AND IMPLEMENTATION EXPERIENCE (VERY HIGH LEVEL) FOR EDUCATIONAL AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PROJECT MANAGEMENT ON HIGHLY INFLUENTIAL SUBJECTS. MUST BE GOOD ROLE MODEL, GREAT TEACHER AND WISE ELDER. THE ABILITY TO ACCURATELY PREDICT THE FUTURE WILL ALSO BE LOOKED UPON POSITIVELY.
SC6 DEMONSTRATED ARTISTIC ABILITY. ARTS AND CRAFT PREFERABLE. CAPACITY FOR AMAZING IMAGINATION ESSENTIAL. PROFICIENCY FOR UTTERING SENTENCES SUCH AS “WHY YES, THAT *IS* A GIRAFFE WITH A SNOOGLEHORN AND NOT A ROCK AT ALL” A MUST. ACTING ABILITY OBVIOUSLY ALSO REQUIRED.
EXPERIENCE AT ANY/ALL OF THE FOLLOWING WOULD BE ADVANTAGEOUS: CHEF, PSYCHOLOGIST, DIPLOMAT, REFUSE HANDLER, NUTRITIONIST, INSOMNIAC, TEACHER, REFEREE, SAFETY OFFICER, SPORTS/MUSIC/DANCE COACH.
MUST BE WILLING TO FORGO – OR AT LEAST DOWNWARDLY PRIORITISE – HAVING YOUR OWN LIFE.
Is it any wonder there are no licensing law requirements to be a parent? Who could satisfy this sort of application? Hardly any of us at all. Well, maybe an anal retentive type-A sociopathic insomniac but even then only if they had experience.
A parent has so many responsibilities it’s not surprising that sometimes some of us have doubts about whether we’re doing a good job. We have to be so many things and it feels so very important to get it right. It’s our children’s future after all so the stakes are high.
But just how realistic is it for us to be so versatile? How many jobs in the real world would dare to ask for so much across so many spectrums?
This is why ancient civilisations raised children using the entire community. Less pressure, more specialisation and more support.
So if you’re feeling overwhelmed and having doubts about your ability as a parent, please don’t despair. No matter what the media tells you there is no such thing as a perfect parent. I don’t think any sane person reading this will be able to fulfil ALL the criteria. But if you do? Well then email me – I may have a position open for you.