I asked parents what part of parenting they hate the most. This is what I found.

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I posted this question on my blog Facebook page: what part of parenting do you hate the most?

 

Not surprisingly it had over 100 comments. And as I read through them, I started to notice some trends. Parents hated bedtime. They hated puke and poo. They hated getting up in the night. Never having a clean house came up a lot, and so did bath time. Nothing was shocking. Some of the comments mentioned big ideas that take a lot of little things to accomplish, like teaching children self-sufficiency.

 

Every one of the people on the thread, all 100+ of them, were dedicated parents. I could see it in their profile photos. Nearly all of them showed a smiling face with cute children next to them. Every one was in a different stage. Some were grappling with teenagers, some babies, others toddlers. Some had multiple children in their photos, showing me that they were faced with different elements of growth at the same time. And yet, even with all these multiple challenges these parents were willing to go at it every day. To try hard. To get up every morning and do it again. Why?

 

And as I read through the thread, and wondered how non-parents would interpret this, I realized they would see it as a bitch fest. It was a bunch of parents complaining about having children, and all the irritating, maddening, crazy things you have to put up with.

 

I hear this question from a lot non-parents: why would you put up with that? And you know what, it’s a valid question. And every time I’m asked it, I struggle to answer it.

 

I think about that question a lot, actually. Why do I put up with so much crap from my kids? Why do I get up every morning and wipe my toddler’s butt, or put up with my daughter’s fits… why? And you know what, it’s hard to say why.

 

Especially right now, this very moment as a write, my 6-year-old daughter is in her room. She just had a massive melt down because she couldn’t get the tablet charger to plug in all the way. And my son, he is sitting across from me. He just poured way too much cereal into his bowl, and made a huge mess. He is apologizing. And to my right is my one-year-old, babbling about nothing and tossing Captain Crunch on the floor. And even with all these little irritations going on, I can’t help but realize that I love the hell out of these kids. They are the most maddeningly frustrating people I have ever met. They fight me on everything from cleaning a room, to not putting my smart phone in their mouth, but I love them.

 

When I look at them, they remind me of myself. I want nothing but the best for them. I have a deep desire for them all to grow up and become amazing adults who raise amazing children. They do things to me that I would never put up with from another person, and yet I love them.

 

With each one of those comments about hating parenting, I saw nothing but love because I knew that they were knee deep in teaching their kids. Only someone who loves another person unconditionally would put up with that kind of crap. My children are the only people I love enough to patiently sit down and teach them to wipe their own butt, or drink from a cup. It doesn’t mean I don’t get frustrated. And it doesn’t mean that I don’t bitch about them. And it doesn’t mean that I hate my job as a parent. It means that I love my kids enough to do it.

 

When I took Ethics in college, I was asked to imagine two philanthropists. Both donate the same amount of money, only they donate money with different motivations. Whenever philanthropist A donated money, he made sure that people knew about it. Praise was his primary motivator, and if he didn’t get praise for his philanthropy, he wouldn’t donate money any more.

 

In contrast, philanthropist B hated to donate money. He bitched about it. However, he did it because, at the core of his being, he knew it was the right thing to do.

 

The question is: Who was the better philanthropist?

 

I said philanthropist B. Both were good people doing good things, however philanthropist B donated because his motivations were pure.

 

Much like philanthropist B, parenting isn’t about praise. It isn’t about the traditional reward system. It’s about pure love. And I don’t know how to fully explain that to someone who hasn’t experienced it, but I assume this is why non-parents see parenting as so irrational. As such a pain.

 

But what I do know is this.

 

Those of you sleepless, and frustrated, and moody, and still madly in love with your children, you are doing it right. Bitching about kids doesn’t mean parenting isn’t worth it. It means that you love your children enough to be honest about your frustrations, and you are looking for a way to laugh about your challenges so you can feel confident getting up the next morning to do it all again.

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