This week’s guest post was written by Jeni Jorgens. We hope that you find it useful and look forward to future posts from Jeni.
“How would you know?”
The experience of a childless parent-educator
In short, I wouldn’t know. I wouldn’t know what it feels like to have my child step on my face when I’m still slumbering in the morning, I wouldn’t know the constant anxiety about my child’s well-being, and I wouldn’t know the crushing anguish of hearing my child say “I hate you!”
I will tell you what I do know. I know that parenting is hard. Really, really, really hard. I know that parenting tests limits you didn’t even know existed. Mostly, I know that all parents do the best they can with what they know and have.
I do not have children; however, my job is supporting parents in becoming the best parents they can be. Often, this includes sharing tips and ideas to make child-rearing a little bit easier. When I am in someone’s life, problem-solving various family-related things, I am sometimes asked the question I dread most: “So, do you have kids?”
When a parent asks me this, a small wave of panic consumes me while I search for the best way to answer. Do I explain that although I don’t have kids, I have a lot of education? No, that sounds too smug. Do I talk about all of the experience I have? Perhaps too defensive. Can I simply say “no,” with no rationalization for why they should listen to me? So here the parent and I sit, most likely both fearing judgment from each other.
In these moments, I settle on “I do not have kids, but I love them, have taken care of a lot of them, and want to support your family.” I share that I do not, in fact, have all of the answers (or claim to), and that I appoint the parent as the true expert.
Being in this position has its benefits for both the family and me. Having an objective perspective, I may be able to think of solutions that are not clouded by emotion and exhaustion. As for me, I have the wonderful opportunity to learn about situations and challenges I may have never considered.
All in all, I really don’t know what it is like to be a parent, but my hope is that the family and I can work as a team. We can brainstorm and try new things together. We can teach each other. We can nurture the family so that they not just surviving, but thriving.
Jeni Jorgens is the Infant Specialist at Family Tree Relief Nursery.