I once complained online about the daily balance parents are forced to strike between their kids’ lives and their own. A fellow parent responded succinctly: Parenting is overrated.
Hmm. If I really weigh the pros and cons, do I think it’s all worth it? Or is parenting overrated?
We already know parents are overrated. But that much is obvious; in many ways we aren’t as important to our kids as we think we are. The question of whether parenting is overrated for the parent is a little trickier.
Using the age-old technique of listing pros and cons, I’m going to attempt to break it down. I don’t want this to get too long, so let’s run through just a small sampling of some of the negative stuff first.
Is Parenting Overrated: Cons
Cons: Pregnancy, coming up with a name, sympathy pains, labor, no sex for six weeks, sleep deprivation, sleep training, dirty diapers, breastfeeding vs. formula, a billion accessories, clothes they immediately outgrow, tantrums, vaccinations, SIDS, milestone stress, teething, whining, screaming, terrible twos, threenagers, constant anxiety, too much clutter, contentious dinners, car seats, juice box stains, Goldfish everywhere, diaper blowouts, potty training, daycare diseases, allergies, random biting, spit up, puke, hand-foot-mouth, preschool selection, nap jail, other parents, birthday parties, getting toddlered, being a role model, no time to yourself, never sleeping in, parenting experts, they aren’t independent enough, they grow up too fast, stressing over their screen time, dealing with gender stereotypes, dealing with bullying, helping with homework, play-dates, co-sleeping, sibling rivalry, going to movies, going to restaurants, going on vacation, flying, judgment, peer pressure, common core, bedtime struggles, wake-up struggles, being a role model, scheduling, carpools, babysitters, crumbs, infinite laundry, snow days, sick days, too many kids’ movies, too many toys, summer camp, sleepovers, discipline, instilling a work ethic, teaching real values, trying not to spoil them, lack of respect, not enough exercise, parenting advice, puberty, learning to drive, learning not to drink, saying no to drugs, dealing with dating, getting into college, paying for college, the fact that even when they get out of college you’re still out of your mind with anxiety, it never ends, even when they’re 40 and have kids of their own, believe me, ask your parents, the stress is insane and never-ending and your life is basically a giant 50-year nightmare.
OK, now for the good parts!
Wait, I just remembered some more cons, one sec …
Cons: Braces, LEGO shrapnel, non-stop talking, racing for the bus, dressing for the snow, bath time, so many trains, separation anxiety, video games, getting them to tell you about their day, dealing with the aftermath of spending time with grandma, advice from people without kids, Play-Doh everywhere, headaches from loud toys, headaches from loud boys, headaches from dance parties, answering 8 billion “Why?” questions, hearing 8 billion “No!” answers, panicking about climate change, panicking about politics, wondering what the world will be like for them in 10/20/30 years.
Now for the good parts.
Shit, one more Con: Getting a vasectomy.
Whew, all set, I promi– I forgot about lice! Sheesh, that’s a big con. Huge! Can’t believe I almost missed it.
Okay, finally time for the positives! Let’s do this.
Is Parenting Overrated: Pros
Pros: Every once in a while, your kid gives you a hug.
Is parenting overrated? No.
A version of this first ran on Dad and Buried.