Becoming Obsolete


They say that parenting is the one job that when done correctly, makes the worker obsolete. You raise your kids, you do the job as well as you can do it. You protect them, love them, teach them, and then you step back and you let them go.

If you have done it well, you won’t be needed anymore. That’s sad, but it’s wonderful, too.

If you are very lucky, the independent young people that you have sent off into the world will stay close enough for you to watch them as they surpass you, leaving you in awe.

If you get to watch your children grasp the complexities of the political world in ways that have always eluded you, you’ll find yourself learning things in your old age.

If you are near enough to see them fall in love and form relationships, you might realize that they have built upon the model that you showed them.

Sometimes you’ll be served a dinner made by your kids, and you’ll be delighted to see that they learned from you, but they added some tricks of their own. Maybe they’ll serve you a drink you’ve never heard of, or make a dessert you wouldn’t have dared to tackle.

And one fine day you may find yourself smiling in admiration as your very own baby child demonstrates complete mastery of this whole parenting thing. You won’t believe your eyes when that child stays calm in the face of a melt down, or wrestles a thrashing toddler into a warm sweater, or firmly places a screaming child into a time out space to cool down.

If you are very lucky, like I am, you’ll get to have that moment where you take a deep breath and think to yourself, “Damn, we did a good job of raising these people! Now we can sit back and let them handle things on their own.”

At such a moment, if life has been good to you, you’ll smile at your spouse, pour another glass of wine, and sit back to watch the snow fall.

After all, you’ve made yourself obsolete. It’s someone else’s turn now.

And they’ve got this. 

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7 thoughts on “Becoming Obsolete

  1. I watch my daughter with her two (my grandsons); overwhelmed by it all … & she asks me sometimes how I did it with them (2) – I tell her she’s doing a great job as they had 7 years between them, while hers have 2 years … She’s getting there; & doing things her own way – often calling to compare experiences.

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