I've known several people this year who have lost a child. That is not the order of nature. A parent should never outlive a child. As I approached Mother's Day, the thought of a parent losing a child gave me great pause, and has not lessened now that we are on the heels of Father's Day. The mere thought is so devastating that it made me question the real purpose of Mother's and Father's Day. Is the holiday to recognize the mother and father, or is it really to give thanks for the blessing of a child?
The biological aspect of being a "mother" or "father" is easy. All you have to do is give birth or provide sperm. However, being a parent is something completely different. I can remember many years ago when I overheard a man who was divorced state he wouldn't date a woman who had never had a child, because he believed that until you're a parent you will never know true humility. Little did he know that he was not only right about true humility, but also that until you are a parent you will never know unconditional love.
Parenting is a tough job, and not everyone is cut out for it. There aren't prerequisites or interviews to ensure that a person is the best candidate. It's all on-the-job training, and with close to 50% of marriages ending in divorce, http://www.apa.org/ topics/divorce/ June and Ward Cleaver and Mike and Carol Brady are no longer the norm. In today's world it is almost impossible to be everything to everyone. Parents need to stop measuring themselves against each other, and merely do the best they can. Although parents are constantly making sacrifices for their children, they don't have to sacrifice who they are or try to be someone they aren't. They need to be comfortable with saying no, and recognize that it's OK to accept help from other parents. I wish I could tell you that I loved going on school field trips and volunteering at the school carnival, but the truth is both activities gave me a headache. Likewise, my husband tried really hard to love camping with our son at Boy Scout camp. Unfortunately, every time he went camping the heavens opened up, and had he not been in Kansas, he would have been concerned that he was in the middle of a Tsunami. Fortunately there were other parents who thrived in those environments, and allowed us to take a step back and merely appreciate being present.
Whether it's Father's Day, Mother's Day or just a day you get to spend with your child, it is a day to be treasured. It is so easy to get wrapped up in your day-to-day life, and get lost in what you need to be doing based on your perceived expectations. On this Father's Day, and on all future Mother's and Father's Days, don't limit your celebration. Celebrate your day of recognition, and the gift of being a parent.