Parenting Like Sisyphus

By Jeremy Majid

Time filters out only the best stories. Those that survive do so for a reason, they resonate with us or help explain the world around us. In ancient Greek mythology there is a story about Sisyphus, a king who commits misdeeds. His punishment for these transgressions is to roll a heavy boulder up a hill, only it for it to roll down again; and repeat, for eternity. 

This story has survived millennia, not because we build by rolling boulders around with our bare hands, but because the metaphor resonates in so many areas of our lives.

My boulder is the floor under my son’s high chair, which no matter how often we clean it, is guaranteed to be covered in a variety of food mess across a surprisingly large radius. My boulder is going to the farmer’s market, buying the most nutritious and ethical food we can, cooking it, only for none of it to be eaten by our pre-school daughter; and repeat. 

Sometimes, we don’t bother to clean the floor, simply stepping around the mess, and hoping we have no unexpected guests. 

We do this knowing that it will need to be cleaned before it sets like cement-there is no escaping the boulder. But in a few years, this challenge will be over. It’s important to take the time to remind ourselves that what feels like eternity is very different from eternity. And in fact, when we reflect back after the challenge is over, that time feels surprisingly brief.  

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