Being a parent is hard. Being a parent is beautiful. Being a parent is trying, exhausting, exhilarating, terrifying and joyful. And that's just while they're babies! One thing is certain though. Being a parent is arguably the most amazing task that a human being can ever undertake. Oh sure, you've heard the cliches, like the most enjoyable part of a child is during the creation process, but the first time you actually hold your own baby close and feel that tiny heartbeat, that notion goes out the window. A wise source - or at least a wisely-written character on TV - once said that "children aren't supposed to be grateful. they're supposed to eat your food and break your heart." There's a lot of heads nodding right now. But here's the thing. You can't get a broken heart or any sort of emotional anguish unless you truly have a deep emotional attachment to another person, so the most amazing part of parenting has to be: The Love.
Parenting is a test, or a gauntlet, or any other trying metaphor you prefer. Your challenges as a parent are numerous, and not just to make sure the child grows up strong and healthy. You also are tasked with teaching your child all the rights and wrongs of the world, and how to deal with them all, even if you haven't totally learned some of those lessons yourself. You have to be the voice that explains, as well as the hand that disciplines. You have to consider things from a smaller perspective, knowing full well that your child will never see your perspective, at least until they've grown up and had kids of their own. Then you get the unadulterated joy of being a grandparent, which supplies an ongoing source of familial pride, without all of the stress that was part of parenting.
What parenting really tests is the parent. It teaches patience, first and foremost. Can you keep your cool when your little angel destroys a $200 dress, or when your little boy stuffs a grilled cheese sandwich into the DVD player. Can you be supportive, while still allowing your child to find their own path? Even if that path differs from the one you saw them taking in your mind? Can you recognize your own faults and predispositions and withhold them, rather than passing them on to your child? The rewards are life-changing if you can. To watch your baby grow, learn and become a young well adjusted adult in today's society, with all its challenges and temptations, is a vindication of you as a parent. Children are also a non-stop source of entertainment, partly because they're just funny, and partly because you can still remember being that entertaining when you were a kid. There simply is nothing more satisfying than knowing that you did a good job raising your child, and when you see that child raising their own child well because of the lessons they learned from your own parenting, well, that's a whole different level of self-satisfaction.
Every day as a parent is amazing, in a thousand different ways. The only question for the new parents out there is whether you can rise to the challenge and be just as amazing yourself.