A Thankless Job?


I’ve gotten used to being a single mom.  It’s been three years.  I’m used to their dad’s participation in their lives being a nightly 5 minute phone call and a weekly dinner that sometimes includes shopping for the occasional thing they need and sometimes when their schedule allows dad’s house two weekends a month.  Yes he does a little more than that, but I’m the one making sure they have food in their stomachs every day, and a  roof over their heads.  I’m the one sitting through two-hour band booster meetings on a hard plastic chair listening to the president drone on and on about everything under the sun –  twice.  I appreciate the dedication but nothing could be more boring.

I’m the one who gets the tears and fists clenched in frustration when I bring up the tender topic of my daughter’s math grade that got downgraded for participation points after too many excused absences which is not supposed to happen as retribution from core teachers against kids in band.  I learn things when I go to booster meetings…

I’m the one who gets the rude comments from my son when I interrupt his (insert leisure activity here) to do a task for me.  It can vary from playing Call of Duty, to watching Kyle XY, or playing his piano or guitar.  Tonight it was because he was on the phone.  I’m still working on manners, I have three more months before he turns 18.

I know I get the blessings too of being up front and personal with both my teenage kids.  It is something I would not trade for the world, so consider this pure venting on my part.  I miss having a partner to help me with all of this.  My ex lives too far away to help at a moments notice.  Thankfully he has contributed appropriately financially so far.  But I fear he will lose his job again in this economy.  It scares me, but I don’t think about it because I’ve learned it doesn’t help to worry about things you can’t control.

I knew it would be a thankless job all those years ago when I saw the plus sign after peeing on the stick.  In fact I cried, overwhelmed at the thought.  I knew it when I quit my job so I could dedicate myself more to my family’s needs and prided myself on play dates, home cooked meals, and homemade crafts that actually taught them something.  I knew it when my husband walked out the door with his clothes on hangers never to return.

I knew I had no option but to be there for my kids and give them sometimes hard messages but ones they needed nonetheless.  And I will be willing to do that forever.  But also to hold them when they need a good cry as they have done for me a few times in recent years.

When I get to feeling like this I need to remember that I have something priceless with my children.  Trust.  And many parents of teenage kids cannot say that.  I need to remember I have fun with them and laugh more than cry.

As I type this my son is jamming on his guitar and every few minutes yells out, “Give me a chord mama!”  And I yell, “Gmaj7” back.  And then he serenades me with something amazingly beautiful.

As thankless as it is, I’m so sorry that this season of my life is almost over.  He graduates in three months.  My daughter the very next year.  Both will be in some form of college and then beyond to live hopefully happy and full lives.  I feel woefully inadequate to help them through those decisions but we will muddle through.

I know all the sacrifices will be worth it to see them jump up and down with that diploma and walk down the aisle.  But even more I know it will all be worth it when they call me, come over, and integrate me in their adult lives  not because they have to but because they want to.  That is my goal.  To stay close.

But tonight I’m a little on the weary side.  But I know it won’t be a thankless job in the end.

And of course as I’m done typing this entry he is in the kitchen telling me he ran the dishwasher while I was out and is asking if he should put away the leftover corn that was left on the stove.  Ok, maybe I should just be counting my blessings instead of feeling sorry for myself.  Of course I should.  Of course.

It is true with parenting as it is with anything else.  The hardest of tasks are usually the most rewarding. And sometimes you don’t realize it until it’s over.  Thankfully that is not me tonight.

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One response to “A Thankless Job?

  1. Well… I’ve always felt that as a parent – it’s my job to provide for them and prepare them for living in the world. I don’t do it for accolades or thanks. I do it for love. As do you. It’s not thankless as you’ve pointed out in the title with the “?” But it is not easy (the good things never are – are they?) Seems that you’ve picked up the slack and the challenges presented as a single parent and excelled with your kids. I don’t envy you your job. But I would say that “Keep up the great work” is in order. Peace be with you.

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