Wednesday’s Jewels of Elul question was:
“If you had to say what your role was in this world what would you say?“
In response, I have long felt the following to be true:
Raising children is not the most important job in the world, no matter what any pride-filled parent or teacher might say. It is certainly important, but in the face of curing diseases, mediating peace in the world or a host of other jobs both great and small which have a wide-ranging impact being a parent does not (in my opinion) compare.
And I have deep respect for people who honestly assess their own situation and personality and come to the conclusion that kids just aren’t in the cards for them. Parenting is like any lifelong obligation, requiring effort, diligence and committment to the task. If someone says they don’t feel up to it, then it’s presumptuous (not to mention insulting) for anyone to say “oh, but you’d be such a great Mom”.
Yeah, and I’d probably be a great concert violinist too, if I felt like spending the time and effort and actually even liked the violin. But I don’t. I’m not drawn to it in that way and the world is a better place for the lack of another mediocre musician.
So no, parenting is not the most important job in the world.
It is, however, the most important job in the world which I will ever do. I am (God willing) roughly halfway through my life, and it’s pretty obvious that I will never be the one to call parties to the table to negotiate a treaty in the Middle East. Or the MidWest. Or even Middleburg Heights. I’m also not going to find a cure for cancer, or the common cold, or frizzy hair.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my work. But world-changing it’s not.
The only “big” job left to me is to be a good husband to a woman who deserves more than I could ever possibly provide, and to be a role model to my kids – showing them by my example (sometimes acting as a good example, and sometimes being the one their mother says “See? That’s EXACTLY why you should never do that.”).
Maybe they will be the ones to find a cure or solution or invention. Maybe not. But at the very least I can teach them how to be good human beings, how to recover when their worst selves trip up their efforts to do their best, how to make their way through childhood to become both competent and happy adults.
In short, my role in the world – the big job God has given me – is to help 4 new souls find their role in the world.