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Happy another-day-of-parenting day!

I was trying to schedule a visit with an old friend I haven’t seen in years. I said, how about this weekend? And she said, Well, it’s Father’s Day so I’ll be away all weekend.

Oh, yeah, Father’s Day. I’m supposed to remember that, right?

My husband and I try not to make too much of what we call “Hallmark Holidays,” but even if you decide that, you’re left with a conundrum. What if I make nothing of it and his feelings are hurt? What if I set up a big deal and all he wanted to do was to clean out the garage that day?

Couples I know who have no kids are almost all united in the importance of such romantic holidays as Valentine’s Day. Let me tell you: the first time you spend Valentine’s Day trying to spit out a baby who’d really rather stick around in that warm, free-drink environment is the last day you get really romantic about Valentine’s Day! I’m not sure who’s less romantic about Val Day: Parents with kids at home, or parents whose kids have grown and moved on. So this is what love got us?

But our payback is supposed to be these separate holidays we get, mother’s and father’s day. These are supposed to be sacred holidays for us hardworking parents. We are supposed to be awoken by bright-faced children carrying in trays so that we can eat breakfast in bed, bestowed with wonderful presents, and celebrated in story and song. The reality is somewhat different. One year, my children did decide to bring me breakfast in bed. Problem is, I get up earlier than they do, and I treasure that time to take my solitary walk. But there they were with a tray full of food, in front of faces full of good intentions.

Grudgingly, I got back into bed.

I hate eating in bed. And the granola had sat on the yogurt so long it was soggy.

Otherwise, it was perfect!

Perhaps what it comes down to is that parenting is its own reward and its own punishment. On the one hand, you are rewarded by those children who do, in fact, want to make you happy. Who do love you no matter how bad of a parent you are. (Though they tell you about every little thing you do wrong.) Who idolize you to the point that they will eventually make most of the mistakes you made in life (and then some).

On the other hand, parenting is definitely its own punishment. In what other job, do the customers served so faithfully — you give them life, for god’s sake! — care so little about your sacrifices? In what other job does success mean sending your product out in to the world never to be able to fix it again? (Though many parents try, throughout their adult children’s lives, to fix them.)

So…Happy Father’s Day. Celebrate it as you wish. We’ll probably just do a nice breakfast, mention a few times how much we appreciate him, and leave it at that. If they want to make more of it once they’re adults, that’s fine. Until then, we’ll just have to savor the bittersweet flavor of the world’s hardest job.

Posted in Parenting.

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