When Can I Resign from Being a Parent?


“Boys break your house, girls break your heart.” Anon.

When Can I Resign from Being a Parent?

It seems to me that boys are brilliant at breaking things, or worse, themselves and girls are brilliant at breaking you, either way your parent-heart is a little bit dented every time. When it happens to me I carefully try and hammer out those ruts and pits from the inside in order to try and repair some of the damage. However much I try though, I’ve come to realise that I’m not an expert in heart restoration, trying to figure it out keeps me awake at night.

Last week was a case in point for us. Our son injured his back on the sports field again, so now rugby is out, cricket is out, football is out. It’s not a serious injury, just a reoccurring one that makes it painful for him to run or bend. The doctor suggests yoga or pilates. That’ll be fun – he’s twelve so I’m looking forward to breaking the news to him later when he gets in from school. Can anyone help me here? How do I sell this to him? (How will he keep it a secret from his friends?) The thing about back injuries, I am constantly reminded, is that they can cause problems in later life. I feel it is my parental duty to raise my son in such a way that he is at the very least able to walk when he leaves this nest.

Apart from him, our daughter decided on the same day that she didn’t want to live with us anymore. It was literally a dark and stormy night, the rain was lashing, and my dear husband was running up the driveway to go and look for her in the forest in his slippers and pj’s. It turned out that she had been hiding under the bed all along, I laughed with relief and cried with delayed shock, anger, fear etc. It’s scary how one’s imagination gets a bit carried away.

My husband’s work brings him into contact with people suffering in the dark realm of depression and suicide on a daily basis, so for him it’s not a far stretch from imagination into reality. That night he said he wants to resign from parenting, it’s getting too hard now. I know she’s not depressed, just a normal teenager and we have since resolved the argument. But it is so difficult to know what to do or say in order to get it right as a parent.

I once had a job where I resigned because a better offer came along which was more in line with what I wanted to do. I took a break from another job for health reasons. I had to leave one because we moved house. I have not been accepted for various other jobs because I am either under or over qualified. None of those criteria apply to parenting, this is a job for life! For that reason, you have to find ways of working it out.

So, we went out for a coffee yesterday morning, Hubby and I, and we came up with a communication plan. I love plans, I love making them together with him and I love the way my daugher and I do actually talk about stuff that matters. I think the plan we have is a wise plan that allows her some freedom, allows us to test her maturity and lets her feel we are willing to trust her to make good choices. It’s my fervent desire to maintain our relationship as best I can through the turbulent years ahead. She has two sisters who will be following in her wake and unfortunately for her she is my guinea pig.

Also, I’ve figured out the two of us don’t parent alone, there are other adults who love my kids and who have formed caring relationships with them. They share our burdens and actually their words and guidance sometimes leave a greater impression on the children than ours do (much to my chagrin).

My heart, I realise is not being beaten into shape only by my hand, we are a parent team, surrounded by a community, entrusting ourselves a Master craftsman who is far more willing and able to fashion it into something more beautiful than I ever could. It’s the trust I have in this that drives out my fear and enables me to live with the consequences of the dents in my own heart.

I know we can never resign from the work of being a parent and that’s OK because I accept I will never be a perfect parent and I certainly don’t have perfect children. It will always be the toughest job I’ve ever done but the highlights are worth it – those uncharacteristic hugs and little notes of thanks from my daughter, the sudden burst of conversation and insight from my son, their kindness towards others and all the things that make me proud of them to swell my heart to bursting point (so that my eyes leak). This is the only job I can think of that’s worth all the sacrifices.

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12 thoughts on “When Can I Resign from Being a Parent?”

  1. The England football team used to do Ballet, see if you can sell the yoga/pilates along those lines. Sadly we never get to resign, I have 5 kids all adults now, yet every week one of them comes to me for help (via the internet) broken hearts, happy news, moving countries, announcing they’re being deployed to the Middle East etc #tweensteenbeyond

  2. Oh my word, as a Mum of three girls my heart is well and truly broken but my house is intact – well almost. This is a beautiful post Liberty and it’s lovely to read how you are dealing with the latest challenges – you seem to be doing a fantastic job. There’s always another challenge around the corner and we don’t even get any annual leave!! Thanks so much for sharing with us at #TweensTeensBeyond

  3. such a true statement about girls being able to break our hearts. We’ve gone through so much with our 18 year old, its been a painful time for all involved. All the best going forward #TTB

  4. Jo - Mother of Teenagers

    Liberty what a beautiful post! My own mother reminded me recently that you never stop being a mother and the job of parenting is never done. I have endured an array of sports injuries with my son and was relieved when his rugby career came to an end. He now focuses purely on Cricket but as a fast bowler back injuries are rife and pilates has been his godsend. He didn’t take kindly to it at first but our health is our wealth and they need to learn that early on too. I am sure your son will realise you are doing it with his best interests at heart. I am not sure how old your daughter is but like your other reader I have found the worst age with both mine started at 14. By 16 my eldest had sorted himself out. My youngest is now 14 and we are back on the roller coaster again. My husband and I grin and bear it and pray for the end knowing it will come. Communication is key and the love and support of a great partner. You both sound like a great team and I am sure you will get there albeit with a few more grey hairs and wrinkles, but don’t give up! Thanks for joining us, such a pleasure to have you with us. #TweensTeensBeyond

    1. Thank you Jo for all your kind comments, I so appreciate them. Communication is key and so is community – we are certainly blessed to be in a supportive one here with a good bunch of other parents and friends. I am also finding more and more that the online community is so valuable in keeping one’s spirits up by knowing there are so many others across the world going through what you are at any given time. 🙂

  5. When my son was about 3 or 4 years old, he asked me if I had been to school to learn to be a mummy and when I told him that,no; “I was winging it” (Actually I didn’t use those words but it sounds good!) He said I was doing pretty good then. It was a very proud moment for me. One book I found invaluable when going through the teenage years with my daugther was the Butterfuly Effect by Danielle Miller. There is a lot of pressure on our girls and this was great.

    1. Liberty On the Lighter Side

      Thanks Lucy, I’ll have a look out for that book. Great to be so well appreciated by your little boy at that age, I hope he still encourages you now!

  6. Ahh Liberty
    I can tell that you are now going through what I have come out at the other end of… from age 14 years to 25 years were our demon years, and we still have those moments, but far less often thankfully. I can only wish you luck. Beautifully written 🙂

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