Parenting is often not rewarding but purposeful. Yes, that statement meant to catch attention sounds strange, but what I mean is that the feeling of "reward" from being parenting doesnt fill the present moments as much as the nitty gitty moments of guidence and real PARENTING.
Day to day, moment to moment, there are more instructing and sometimes aggravating moments than blissful when parenting kids, of any age. Maybe this is the perspective of an overwhelmed mama, but really, parenting is disproportionately discipline (which is teaching and preparation) and instruction mixed with smaller amounts of open observation and also moments of joy. The joy really comes in reflection - back on the observation, back on their responses to discipline, back on the long trek up a mountain that got you to a certain peak. Its not always a smiling moment that brings joy to parenting, but the look-back on the months and years that brings paralyzing joy.
This is a project that is never finished. It is not a presentation that you've concluded at work or a huge puzzle that is finally together. The satisfaction will not come when the work is done because the work is never done. I guess this is why it is so challenging. You must keep on your toes, ready for the next change and anticipate how this will effect them in their ability to be a respectable adult, then execute your parenting course.
I am not their "friend", I am their guide.
It is challenging to create something, then let it off to be its own creation. Like that puzzle - it's like spending days on a 3000 piece puzzle then finishing - and watching it morph, muddle up, bend, crack and slowly, slowly rearrange into its own scene. I can only watch and advice hoping a piece wont fall off the table. I can only tell them how I managed to get some of my pieces in line despite a gale and storm around a younger me. I can cringe as the theoretical puppy walks by sniffing to take a piece away with him. I can yell "That wont fit there!" Or I can bite my tongue while they try and flip, turn and force... only to come to the same conclusion without me. (Or like some of them, stubbornly jam a slightly larger pice into a smaller curve, and insist it fits, and insist they're right while every time their arm moves, they peel back a bit of puzzle flesh because it's awkwardly sticking out above a should-be-flush surface.)
Parenting is such a dance, with no guarantees, and heart swelling waiting around every turn.
Parenting is purposeful.