The most important job which any man or woman will ever hold is that of parent. Being a mother or father is an incredibly difficult and demanding job. Although the duties undergo significant changes along the way, parenting is a life long career. Once you have a child, you are committed until you die, or until they die. You will more than likely receive no financial reward, and at different stages perhaps not even much praise for your work. Your heart will be broken multiple times, you will suffer anguish and anxiety, you can expect sleepless nights, an overwhelming workload and a paucity of gratitude.
You will bear most of the heavy, heavy load of responsibility for the upbringing of a good person and a citizen. You will carry the weight of occasionally naive and unrealistic expectation. Your stomach will be twisted into knots which threaten to cripple you as you make decisions for another person.
I love being a dad. I have two children, teenagers now, and they are beautiful people who care about other people. They demonstrably love me and my wife, and each other. They live purposeful, busy lives, working, studying, playing and socializing, and they don't get into trouble. They don't get into trouble because they don't look for it. They are sensible and sensitive, and they make good decisions. They are forgiving and brave.
Are these awesome children my handiwork? Are they my legacy? Am I defined by what I have done for them, and to them, and who I am to them? Can I take full responsibility for the people they have become? Of course not, but as a father, a parent, I have played the role God assigned to me, and I have done my best to raise my children to love God and to love others.
The pain I have experienced for them, and at times because of them, is nothing at all compared to the joy they have given me. My life would be so shallow and meaningless without them. Through them, and through fathering them, I have learned so much about myself and the God who blessed me with them. To love is to suffer, but I suffer gladly because they are worth it: the happiness they bring, and the rich satisfaction I feel sharing their lives, the pleasure and fulfilment that comes from being a dad is the single greatest thing in my life.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on being a parent, even if you are not one.