Is Parenting the Hardest Job on Earth?


What is the hardest job on earth?

I asked my 14-year-old and he said, “firefighter.” My 17-year-old said it was the men in the army on the front lines bravely fighting battles. My 19-year-old daughter said, “An astronaut going to space.” All of them are pretty good answers.

I asked their dad the same question and his response, in his typical humorous way, was “the hardest job is being your husband.” I proceeded to remind him that he should consider himself lucky as many men were vying for that position and he managed to trump them all and get hired.

On a serious note, if you have not guessed it already, parenting has been called one of the hardest jobs in this world. Technically, it is not a job. It’s not something we highlight in our resume, but being a parent is something most of us do and we really care about doing it well. When somebody tells me that I am a good mom it makes me very happy.

I could not find who said it first that being a mom is the toughest job, but 92 percent of the moms polled in a Parents magazine article agreed with that statement.

I had a very rosy picture of what it meant to be a parent. My mind painted a very naïve version of how my life was going to play out with the perfect husband and the most adorable kids who were always happy, healthy and smiling. We would all hold hands and sing songs in our garden as they do in my favorite Bollywood movie.

In my dreams, I never pictured us getting ready to go somewhere to eat and everybody arguing about which restaurant to go to or us going on a long road trip where kids were asking us every five minutes how much more time is left till we reach our destination. I never visualized them getting stomach flu and throwing up one after the other while I was cleaning vomit drenched sheets and comforters. I did not know that the terrible twos/threes would have its share of tantrums and hyperactivity.

It is indeed God’s miracle they calmed down after that stage and turned into model students by kindergarten. So, whenever I see a frazzled and stressed out mom with a two-year-old who will not behave in a grocery store, I feel like giving her a hug and telling her that believe it or not, he will get better as he gets older and understands the world and its rules. This too shall pass.

When my daughter was born, we were ecstatic. But when the euphoria wore down I just felt like a zombie with massive sleep deprivation. She, like every other baby, woke up every three hours to be fed and changed. And then we’d repeat the cycle endless times. I love her to death but those early days were strenuous.

It is like God is testing you. He throws the worst at you and if it does not kill you, it will only make you stronger. Even now, when I see a new mom I feel sorry for her that she will never get a good night’s sleep for a long time. However, cuddling with your baby, feeding him/her and spending that time together is the best.

The first child is so special. I wrote down everything she did on a calendar, her first smile, her first big laugh, the day she started crawling and so on. The first time we saw her talking to her musical toy in the crib we nearly died of happiness and excitement. If we were trying to get her to burp and it was taking a while, we’d feel so joyful and victorious when she finally burped.

She has so many picture albums and scrapbooks. I took her to the doctor every time she sneezed. If she slept longer than usual I would think she might be hungry (even though she was sleeping soundly!) and I would wake her up and give her milk. If somebody came to the house with a cold I would open the windows and spray down the house after they left. We were, and still are, very protective of our precious princess.

My two sons were born in 2002 and 2005 and we love them all equally. But like everybody who has more than one kid knows after the first one you stop sterilizing the pacifier and your baby is eating chips off the table. You know what over-the-counter medicines to give your child when he is sick, so there aren’t as many doctor visits. Unless there is a fever or an earache there is no point going to the doctor and paying the co-pay.

However, with each consecutive baby, I learned to relax more and play with the kids and enjoy precious moments with them. I realized that it’s okay to not be on schedule all the time and it’s okay if the house is messy.

Parenting does not come with a manual but the oft-repeated advice is to be consistent, to love without spoiling them, to establish boundaries and consequences, and to love them for who they are so that they can have the confidence to be who they want to be.

Parenting is hard because all of the above is easier said than done. It is easy to discipline someone else’s child but when it is your own child it is really tough to enforce rules and curfew as they are so good at tugging at your heartstrings and melting your resolve. They know how to push your buttons and test your patience.

Parenting is hard as you have to be mindful and present when you talk to your young ones. You also have to really open up your ears and listen when they tell you something. And it’s so important to keep the lines of communication open.

Did you watch the viral video doing its rounds on Facebook a few years back where a Boston company takes an ad out for a Director of Operations job and it entails working unlimited hours 24/7 without any salary or breaks? Twenty-four applicants are interviewed via webcam and their reactions are captured. When they realize it is a fake ad and the employers are talking about motherhood, the applicants talk respectfully about their mothers and realize the sacrifices their mothers have made.

I like that video for the whole surprise factor which gets your attention, but it almost makes mothers sound like poor victims who have such a hard-knock life. Yes, it is difficult and demanding to be a mom, but it’s also joyful and fulfilling, and you do get to take breaks! I savor my evenings out drinking wine just with girlfriends and I have even gone on vacation alone.

The main reason parenting is hard is because your children are pieces of your heart. Their happiness and well-being matter to you very deeply. I am consumed with my kids and emotionally connected to them. Their successes make me happier than my own, and I hurt more than them when they experience pain of any kind.

Now that they are teens, I worry about them driving and I stay up to make sure they are home safe. Parenting is especially hard for anxious people like me. I need to make sure my daughter reaches her dorm safely at night and if she doesn’t text me right away I am up waiting for her to text me back while my husband is sound asleep without a care in the world. His mantra is that they will call him when they need him and he will be there.

With time, new parents are promoted to the ranks of experienced parents. Worry and guilt are a part and parcel of parenthood but with time, I have improved at managing both of these emotions. I forgive myself for the mistakes I made in this journey of parenthood and take pride in knowing that when I knew better, I did better.

Parenting is very hard but it is also very rewarding. There is no greater joy than seeing my kids grow up into beautiful young people with beautiful minds and hearts and their own unique insights into this world. They inspire me every day with their wisdom. If anybody is critical of me they will stand up and defend me.

Our kids love me and their dad equally and unconditionally. They teach us every day how to do the same. There is no sweeter sound than to hear their laughter. There are no better cards than the ones they make for Mother’s Day or otherwise. Words like, “We love you, you are the best mom” really fill me with sheer elation.

Parenting is hard as we are dreading the day they will fly far away from the nest and leave us lonely and heartbroken. Yet, we will have the immense pride and joy of knowing that we have contributed the best products (humor me on the job metaphor) to society.

Parenting is really tough; it’s not for the weak. You parent with your blood, toil, sweat, fears, and tears. But you also get incredible love, laughter, fun, joy, hugs, and happiness in return. When I feel low, kisses and cuddles from my family keep me going.

If parenting is a job there are unlimited perks and everlasting rewards, children are a gift that keeps on giving. We are looking forward to grandkids already!

I still don’t know if I would call parenting the toughest job I ever did but I do agree it’s not easy. And yet, every time I see a cute little chubby baby I feel like bringing him or her home and doing it all over again.

What do you think is the hardest part of parenting?

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Growing up in a small town in India, Mona Verma never dreamed that she would immigrate to America. She came to Columbia in 1996 when her husband found a job here and they were newly married. It was an arranged match but she did get to meet her future husband and give her approval and there has never been a shortage of love in their marriage. With a Masters in English and a Masters in Library and Information Science, Mona divides her time between being a part time Reference librarian and a part time writer. She is however, a full time mom to three teenagers, a girl and two boys. Volunteering, gardening, reading, binge watching her favorite TV shows and drinking wine with girlfriends spark tremendous joy in her. She is a very laid back person who likes to live and let live. Cups of hot ginger tea and hugs and cuddles from her family keep her going….


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