Monday, February 16, 2009

More than a Notion

As the mother of a baby in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), I am being given a crash course in the hardships of parenting. First and foremost, there's the ubiquitous worry and the constant prayer. Every time the phone rings, I hold my breath praying that it is not the hospital calling to tell me something is wrong with my baby. Of course, the only time they call is when something is amiss, so really, I just hope that it is not the hospital calling at all. Then there are the hard decisions that have to be made quickly, decisions that could have a detrimental effect on your child (and in my daughter's case, that could literally be life and death). And there's the desire to keep them from all pain accompanied by the inability to do so. Sadly, because my daughter is so small and young and in an isolette (incubator), I can't even touch her to soothe her after she feels the pain.

DH and I have come to the conclusion that being a parent is more than a notion. To paraphrase the former president, it's hard work. This job is even harder when you factor in other people making it so. Last week I learned about a mother in Georgia who gave four teenagers alcohol; one died in a car accident afterward. This mother is part of a small population of parents who believe it is okay to give their children alcohol, considering it a rite of passage. This may make sense on some level if the thinking is that they want their kids to learn to drink responsibly. But one, giving someone else's kid alcohol is not responsible and two, giving him enough to get him drunk is, in fact, irresponsible. Why would you do something like this? As a parent, doesn't this woman understand that parenting is hard enough when one has to worry about one's kid falling into the wrong crowd without the added hardship of having to worry about some grown-tail woman making childish decisions that can (and did) ruin the life of their child? It doesn't make sense that someone would decide that their values, which are blatantly against the law, are what's best and should be imparted on someone else's kid. I wonder if this mother even thinks she did anything wrong.

They say that people should be given a license to parent. I'm not saying this, but I will say that parenting is not an easy job. I don't think people always fully appreciate this fact. Clearly, however, it's a scary world out there for people who decide to become parents and making such a decision is more than a notion.

1 comment:

The Steel Magnolia said...

Your comments are even more salient when we consider Bristol Palin and others who didn't even really make a decision to become a parent. Falling bass-ackward into it creates an even more tenuous situation. Of course, it can be done well, even unplanned, but you're right that it's serious business. And I'm not sure that required parenting classes isn't such a bad idea.