I don't know about you, but sometimes I find the job of parenting to be quite overwhelming. Not necessarily in a vacuum, but combined with a job, housework, and all of the other things in life that seemingly require our immediate attention. Especially these days, with our hands permanently connected to the world through our phones, it seems like the demands never end. There are many days I feel like if someone asks me for one more thing, it might just push me over the edge.
But then I heard a great interview with comedian Louis C.K. on the radio this week. In it, he said he constantly has to remind himself that his most important role in life is being a father, not being a comedian or anything else, for that matter.
He said everything else, in his opinion, must take a backseat to the importance of parenting and molding young lives. He explained that while you do get self-worth and self-esteem from other things in your life, like your career, if something goes wrong in your professional life, it's not the end of the world. But we can't always recoup from our parenting mistakes, like not spending enough time focusing on our children.
He said he was reminded of a line in an old classic movie that he had watched with his father growing up. In the movie, Spencer Tracy stopped a woman from taking her own life by saying: "It's hard to be sad when you're useful."
Whether we know it or not or feel like it or not, as parents, we are the most useful not to our employers, but to our children. They need us in every aspect of their lives from birth to adulthood, physically and emotionally. And while they may not always act appreciative, or say "thank you" when we expect them to, to them we are everything. And someday, hopefully not too far off, they will show their appreciation, and thank us for all that we have done to be useful to them in their lives.
So on those days when you walk in the house from work and it's a mess and everyone seems to want something from you, in that very moment when you're exhausted and just want to go straight to bed, remember, don't be sad, because you too are useful …
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.