Thursday, August 30, 2012

10 Ways Parenting is like the Peace Corps

So I was in the Peace Corps - the "toughest job you'll ever love."  Next to parenting, that is.  It occurred to me this week, staying home with my son who has a mysterious fever-causing illness, how similar my life is to when I was in the Peace Corps.  Here's how:
  1. Children, often partially naked and hungry, are watching my every move making me feel like a big fish in a little glass bowl.  
  2. When driving distances , I often find myself eyeing good spots for places to pee by the side of the road.  (But for the kids - not for myself, so that's a small difference.)
  3. I never feel fully clean...  except for the two minutes during or right after a shower, and then the feeling quickly dissipates.
  4. There is an ongoing theme of illness - some diagnosed, some mysterious, often causing fevers and diarrhea and vomiting.
  5. I get to learn several new languages!  The language of parenting, some sign language (of the baby variety), and each of my children's' unique words for things that until recently only I could understand.  It's not French and Kabiye, but it's close!
  6. Sometimes I feel like I'm forging through the parenting landscape with nothing but a bicycle and a book.  Before I had "Where there is no doctor" but now I have "Where there is no super nanny" and at least one partner who's got my back!
  7. You can never have enough batteries, duct tape and stuff to wash your hands.  
  8. Gift giving has climbed the ladder to a more important place in my life.  Birthday parties galore.  Rewards for job well done.  I'm not used to this.
  9. It feels like constant problem solving.  "How am I going to get my gas canister to town when the market isn't until Wednesday and there's no way to find a taxi?" is very similar to "How am I going to navigate around Target if I need a huge bag of dog food and the baby demands that I carry him on my shoulders?"
  10. I learned that the feelings of wanting to run away or hide, and shower everybody in sight with love and affection are not as far apart as you might think.
I am now fully convinced the guy who crafted the Peace Corps slogan was also a parent and thus the similarities.  Now I must go tend to my naked 2-year-old asking for food.

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