I had previously posted about whether jobs can define people's sense of self here. It turns out there is one job that does -- it's parenting and this struck me as I was reading Judith Warner's Perfect Madness. It's also a "job" where the rewards don't really come until much later (when they are adults) or some times we don't even see the rewards. Unlike working at an office or an occupation there is very little immediate feedback on whether what I'm doing is right or wrong or good or bad. Some of it has also to do with the fact that we are accustomed to be being evaluated, measured at how good we are doing, putting everything we do on scale of 1 to 5 or what have you. A child can't give that kind of feedback -- somtimes the hugs are the bonuses.
From page 6 of her book:
And the real problem was -- the worst of it all was -- it wasn't altogether clear that what they were doing with their lives was actually worthwhile. The choices and compromises -- when all was said and done, they didn't seem to add up all that much. Not to a great sense of achievement. Not to a great sense of pride.