In Praise of Parents

So parents get a lot of shtick sometimes, from the criticisms of resentful offspring to the sneering attitude that the vast majority of the population are more than capable of fertilising an egg. And I've got to admit that a lot of the criticisms are justified: parents make a lot of mistakes, mistakes that have lifelong impacts on their children. Parents can be selfish and irresponsible, often cruel. Parents can be ignorant, maybe wilfully so.

Despite all that, I still want to praise parents. Sure, the vast majority of people can fertilise an egg and carry a pregnancy to term, but the actual business of raising a child - guiding a little human being through the world and making sure they come out as happy and well-adjusted at the end of it all as is humanly possible - is difficult.

Right now I've got a seven-month-old niece. She's a charming little cutie pie and no matter what she does I'm her proud auntie, but all the same looking after her is difficult. I know; I've tried. And frankly, when it comes to rocking a baby with one hand while using the other to call the local clinic to see why she's not taking food, or attempting to feed an obviously hungry infant who keeps spitting food back at you, or being able to change nappies literally anywhere without disgust (ewww)...those aren't things that humans are born with. Those are things that are learned and require actual skill, which I respect because I certainly know that I don't have the skill to do that. And we haven't even got to the stage where my niece starts to say "NO" to things, or to the petulance or the preteen years or the adolescent angst...Even the most experienced of parents mess up on those. You might look down on carrying a pregnancy to term as something that most people can do, but looking down on those parents who actually do a good job with their children and raise them to be well-adjusted and prepared for life's challenges isn't something I can condone. Not when I know from experience just how difficult that actually is.