Perhaps you’ve seen the humorous and rather true job descriptions for parents that occasionally circulate from one email in box to another. As a parent educator, I’ve given some thought to parent roles and responsibilities. If you’re a Mom or if you serve women, I imagine you’ve thought about this, too.

Even the finest dictionary can’t adequately define “parent.” Plus, it’s much more interesting to ask parents how they define the word. One of my favorite ways to do this is to have them complete the sentence, “Being a parent is like . . .”

How would you complete my sentence? Ponder this before you read the responses below. Your thoughts communicate much about your view of this significant role. Or maybe they just tell you something about your current attitude toward your children!

Here are answers I’ve collected from moms and dads with kids of all ages. Being a parent is like . . .

  • Being tied to the end of a bungee cord – exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time.
  • Gathering roses. You have to take the bad (thorns) with the good.
  • Being the target at Cupid’s archery range. There’s a lot of hit and miss and sometimes it hurts.
  • A merry-go-round. Sometimes too fast, sometimes too slow, a lot of ups and downs, and someone frequently gets dizzy and wants off. But riding is too much fun to simply stand and watch. So we climb back up on the prancing pony to whirl in what we know might be a monotonous pattern that may appear to get us nowhere except in our imagination. But the music, the lights, the color blend into an experience that is unforgettable.
  • Like waking up one day in a maze with a responsibility of one small infant. It’s overwhelming and the path is unsure, blocked, misleading, scary. Keep moving, set your own pace, and you will be fine.
  • Being on a roller coaster – lots of exciting “ups and downs” but certainly worth the ride.
  • Reading the most exciting novel. Each page is a new twist and there is always one more chapter.
  • Learning to swim! It takes practice to be skillful and dedication to be better. When you’re tired you need to take a deep breath and keep going and you have to keep paddling to keep from going under!
  • Walking a tightrope. It’s a constant balancing act in all aspects: time, discipline, money, and so on.
  • Running a marathon.
  • Being “Indiana Jones,” never knowing when and where adventure is going to pop up next . . . finding riches and treasures where most would least expect them, and dangers and hurts all along the way. The journey is so fraught with pain and booby traps that you think you just might die in the process, but, in the end, you gain things (strength, wisdom, love, and laughter) that were far beyond the riches you expected.
  • Trying to be the world’s best juggler. It is phenomenally difficult to give them the time they need and save enough time for your husband, your job, your church, and a little quiet time for yourself.
  • Driving bumper cars – not always smooth but it sure is a lot of fun!
  • Wrestling with the wind.

Food for thought, isn’t it? I wonder how your children would complete the sentence? Why not ask them? Yes, children. Their response will tell you how they view you in this role. Do they see you jumping high hurdles, making a mad dash for the finish line, or standing still wondering where to go next? Do you come across as the lead in a soap opera, a bit player with no speaking role, or the director and producer of a modern-day “Leave it to Beaver”? Do you sound like a pig caller at the county fair, someone who just saw a large mouse in the corner, or a member of the debate team?

How do you want to be seen? How do you want to be heard? Picture it, hear it, pray, get an accountability partner, and do what you can to make your vision come true!