Rewarding: (adjective) providing satisfaction; gratifying
Larry King is best known as the host of Larry King Live, which aired on CNN from 1985 through 2010. He has won an Emmy award, 2 Peabodys, 10 Cable Ace Awards and the first ever Walter Cronkite Faith and Freedom Award. He has lived an accomplished, meaningful and inspiring life and at 86 years old, he is vivacious and passionate about life, his career and love. He has hosted some of the most memorable TV interviews with Paul McCartney, his ex, Heather Mills, Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra and many more. He is by far one of (if not the best) television and radio host of our times. But what has been the most rewarding thing he has ever done?
As a father of 5, King says (in an interview with Casey Adams), “it is the most rewarding thing I have done in my life. Whatever you do in your life, nothing beats parenting.”
While it is a bit of a cliché statement and something we all might say if asked on any given day, it doesn’t always feel this way, does it? Is it really rewarding when we are in the thick of it? Do we lay our heads down at night and think wow, this parenting is really amazing and rewarding? Do we awaken in the morning and say I am so lucky to be parenting today as our teens slam doors and we plan the carpool chaos of sports drop-off and pick-ups for the afternoons while the house looks like a tornado ripped through it?
I know I don’t.
Nothing beats parenting? I don't know, Larry. Binge-watching Netflix, sleeping, shopping, eating adult-only dinners at fancy restaurants and laying on a tropical beach may sneak past the laundry, school projects, financial stress and constant referee-ing that is parenting, am I right?
Parenting doesn’t feel rewarding in the hard times. It feels like too much to handle. It feels like failure. It feels like I am always ten steps behind and there just isn’t enough of me to go around. It feels…. draining, exhausting and not-at-all gratifying. It can be downright defeating at times. Most days, it feels as if I have lost myself in a sea of trying to teach little people how to live while meeting the many responsibilities for all of 4 of us.
The satisfaction and rewards come in the silence as the kids sleep peacefully in their own beds or when I catch my kids being kind and affectionate with each other. It feels rewarding when they say I love you or I am sorry or when they snuggle on the couch with me and send me an I miss you text from their dad's house or when they help with the dishes and are proud to have taken the burden off of me just a little. Maybe when the kids are all adults living on their own, I will feel as though parenting is consistently rewarding, but I doubt it. As my mother always tell me, you are only as happy as your saddest child, and let’s be honest, life is hard. And sad. And a freaking roller coaster. We aren’t meant to be happy all the time and I guess that is okay.
Those fleeting and gratifying moments of satisfaction when all is right with the world and your heart is so full and you are flooded with thoughts of, God, I love these kids so damn much how is it even possible to love this much?
Those moments make it all worth it. They remind me that the stressful times and the struggles and the battles I choose to fight to help my kids become the best adults they can possibly be are, indeed, part of the reward. Without the hard work, there really is no reward.
So, I must try to remember that. Maybe I will draw a little heart on my hand to serve as a reminder that parenting equals love. The good, the bad, and the ugly is all born from the greatest love I will ever experience. I want desperately to remember King’s words every day, “nothing beats parenting.” Being a mother is a gift that I take for granted. But I guess that is just part of this wild ride, isn’t it? Good days and bad days. Highs and lows. Gratitude and ungratefulness. All I can do is try to be better than yesterday, be honest and love, love, love.
And the next time my daughter slams her door or tells me the steak I cooked is so gross I will do my best to take a deep breath and remind myself that “nothing beats parenting.” Because even though it doesn't always feel like it, Larry King (the man, the myth, the legend) can't possible be wrong, can he?