I have been a parent for nearly 50 years and an empty nester for more than 20 of those years. Active parenthood can be difficult but when those children grow up to be kind, decent and contributing members of society parenthood is most rewarding.
It is fascinating to watch Julie’s son and daughter wrestle with active parenting. Andy and Leah and their spouses are excellent parents and it is a joy to spend time with them and their children. I thoroughly enjoy my role as a surrogate grandfather but I sometimes wonder how I survived being a daddy.
My children have grown up to be excellent adults (thanks in large part to their mother) but there were still moments of frustration during their childhood years.
An avid reader, I have enjoyed reading other folks’ views on parenthood. Here are a few ̶
Television’s Everybody Loves Raymond, Ray Romano, said of parenthood, “Having children is like living in a frat house ̶ nobody sleeps, everything’s broken and there’s a lot of throwing up.”
The late Erma Bombeck had a solution for active parenting difficulties: “When my kids become wild and unruly I use a nice, safe playpen. When they’re finished I climb out.”
My mother worked hard to feed her brood on a limited budget and was not open to culinary criticism. One sarcastic mom said, “If you’re old enough to critique what I put in your lunch, you’re old enough to make it yourself.” Mom would have agreed.
Keeping a clean house is nearly impossible with small children. The late comedienne, Phyliss Diller, once said, “Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the sidewalk before it stops snowing.”
People talk about the “terrible twos” and I remember that stage of parenthood well. One parent described one of the frequent dilemmas: “Hell hath no fury like a toddler whose sandwich was been cut into squares when they wanted triangles.”
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld described the toddler stage thusly: “A two-year old is kind of like having a blender but you don’t have a top for it.”
Folks without children but who own pets sometimes compare their dogs to children. Advice to these folks: “Do not compare your dog problems to parenting. Your dog cannot say your name 3,427 times a day.”
A parent of a toddler said, “Before I became a parent I didn’t know I could ruin someone’s day by asking them to put pants on.”
Another exasperated parent remarked, “A three-year-old is a walking talking middle finger.”
Robert Knop is the father of twins. Remembering their younger years he wrote, “At this point, I’m more shocked when my kids DON’T need to suddenly poop in the middle of any meal.”
A tired mother said, “My kids were all having fun and getting along and that was the best 3 1/2 minutes of the entire summer.”
Actress Alyson Hannigan asked, “Why don’t kids understand their nap is not for them but for us?”
A reality of parenthood is there is no single source to tell us how to parent. One mom said, “Being a parent is like folding a fitted sheet… no one really knows how.”
Raising adolescents is an experience. Someone said that “raising teenagers is like nailing Jell-O™ to a tree.”
Political satirist and journalist P. J. O’Rourke has a handle on older children: “You know your children are growing up when they stop asking you where they came from and refuse to tell you where they’re going.”
Phyliss Diller issued a warning to parents: “Be nice to your children for they will choose your rest home.”
As we get older we realize the truth of Gretchen Rubin’s observation that “the days are long but the years are short.”
The emptying of the nest was difficult for me. Someone said, “If you think their messy room is difficult to look at, just wait until it’s empty.”
Despite the frustrations, the financial costs and other worries I agree with Ken Norton who said, “Of all the roles I’ve been privileged to have ‘Dad’ has always been the best.”
(Arvid Huisman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)