Parenting is not a side job

Parenting is not a side job

Our culture, however, loves to make it sound like one.

While reading Time’s list of 50 Best Websites of 2012, I cringed to find not only no blogs about attachment parenting, peaceful alternatives to discipline, or any kind of connection-building with children in the “Family and Kids” section, but instead a website called “Mommyish,” which features confessional type stories about parents who leave their infants for vacation or refuse to breastfeed just because.

So much for that whole 2012 Mayan enlightenment thing.

I don’t know where this whole idea of parenting as a side gig started, but you might think that people would wise up and realize it’s a helluva lot more important than popping out a kid and handing him or her to a sitter/daycare while you build your career, travel the world, or sit back and whine about how hard it is to be Mom or Dad. I am not saying you cannot have a career or travel if you have kids—and I’m certainly saying you’re not allowed to vent about any challenges you face—but having a child isn’t something you do on the side, like riding a motorcycle on weekends or selling Avon at parties.

Parenting is a full-time job. It always has been and always will be. Hell, we used to have whole freaking tribes raise children, with each member teaching the youngling something he or she knew well. It was considered that important. We are mammals; we are built with instincts, with special features, to custom care for our own children. It’s not a burden, it’s amazing! I’m not dogging on women who choose not to breastfeed (or cannot breastfeed, of course)—but families who plan on putting two careers ahead of a child should probably reconsider their course of action. Either don’t have a child—or take the lighter career option to be there for your son or daughter.

I totally get why we think the way we do. The system is set up to unnaturally separate us from our kids as early as possible, and the media makes us think that our children are mere annoyances in our lives that we need to “get away” from, rather than the most important relationships we have. Our children are quickly made into consumers and given a uniform education to prepare them for controlled, conformed lives where they will buy a lot and be obedient. Our very instincts are questioned, and every parenting magazine tells us to ask a doctor about things that we normally would simply do ourselves as nature intended. Then, when we can’t connect with our kids and teens, we cry foul, blaming them and whining to anyone who will listen about how hard it is to talk to your child, whom you spend less than three hours a day with.

If you are going to have children, be prepared to give up things in your life, at least temporarily, because they come first. Want to have a life centered on yourself? That’s completely fine. There’s no shame in it at all. But don’t have kids.