The other day I was talking to a couple I know in the neighborhood.  Both parents work and they have three kids.  Interestingly enough, the conversation led into who had the harder parenting job… the mom or the dad.

Now, from my perspective, moms have it harder – I might be biased.

OK, OK – so really I think is is equal.  But they debated back and forth telling each other that the other had the hardest job.  Yes, they were not trying to take credit but push it off on the other one.  They are happily married!  LOL

Family Picture

Anyway – so the healthy debate began.

Who does have the hardest parenting job?  Is it the stay at home mom?  The working dad?  The working single mom?  The stay at home dad?  The divorced dad who only sees his kids when the courts say it’s OK?

My personal opinion is that no parent has it easy.  No matter how you slice it.  And I think it is a sliding scale, as well.

For instance, I am now a single mom who works from home.  On this blog so please don’t stop reading…  ;)

I don’t think my ‘parenting’ job isn’t really all that hard.  I have three girls 6 and under and I truly get up in the morning – and this is a feat because I am sooo not a morning person until my coffee turns me into one  – so happy and grateful to have my kids and be able to wake up with them next to me.

Sure, there are tough times – aka bedtime – but in general I am a better parent not having to fight with another person on what to do and how to do it.  I know a two parent household is probably the best for children.  But, honestly, they seem so much happier and comfortable with rules and the way things go now that there is not so much tension and fighting in the house.

However, money, stress, loneliness and the inability to really KNOW that I am making the right decisions for my kids keeps me up at night.  The unknown scares me to pieces – how do I get 3 kids out if the house catches fire? – and makes me wonder if I have what it takes to be both of the parents that they need.  So, truly, that is very, very hard on me.

But, on the flip side – and please don’t take this as me feeling sorry for my ex, I SO don’t and will explain why later – it has to be excruciatingly painful to only see your kids every other weekend and a few hours during the week.   I know my ex loves our kids and he is a good dad but I know it kills him to give them back to me and know he won’t see them for a few weeks.

On the parenting side, it has to be hard to have to teach and discipline and make rules when you only have them part time like that.   And when he has them when he is working, he has to work around that schedule.  So, I wonder if, really, he has it harder as a parent now.

Now, speaking from past experience, my memory of being a working mother and having a marriage and a child was extremely hard too.  Having to take my little baby to someone to watch all day while I went to a stressful job an hour away and worried about her killed me!   And only having an hour or so to play with her at night after getting dinner, bathing and readying her for bed brought tears to my eyes almost every night.

The weekends were too short, the holidays a tease.  So, I often wonder if I had stayed working out of the home, if I would have the hardest job.  Especially if I were still married.  When do you find time for your spouse,  much less yourself?

And then there is the working dad.  Do we ever really know, as women, the stress that a man is under to provide for his family day in and day out?  Can we understand the levels of pressure on him to be Mr. Professional at work, Mr. Fix It at home and Mr. Sensitive and Sexy to their wives at night?   Add to that daddy duty, being second guessed all the time by mommy and the need to protect his family, and he might actually have the hardest job.

And I compare the stay at home dad to the stay at home mom except that he has the additional stigma of being a stay at home dad and not being out earning an income for the family.  What an incredibly hit that must be for his self esteem.  I suppose it could be compared to the stay at home mom who gets grief for not getting a job out of the home when money gets tight.

With so many variables, so many types of families, so many life situations that are only understood by the people living them, can we ever really define who has the hardest job?

I would argue that people adapt and that the situation we are all in is the one we are most comfortable with and can handle.  Maybe the transition is hard – it was for me – but the end result is exactly what it is supposed to be.

And, really, I think adding parenting to any type of life is HARD.  No matter who you are, what you do or where you live. Parenting is the single hardest thing to do on this planet – my professional opinion, of course.

And no matter the situation, every single one should get a rousing cheer and high five every single day that they do it!

Find more Motherhood Posts at My Recent Writings