THE OTHER TRUTH ABOUT PARENTING
“Are you suffering from Par-ent-ing?”
I watched a video about parenting being like a disease, and the medication for it was called
It was hilarious, and more importantly every parent was able to relate to it.
I’m the mother of a soon to be 10 year old. This is the part where you expect me to say how amazing and rewarding it’s been... but it’s actually been the hardest, deeply challenging, and most anxiety riddled job I’ve ever had. You hear parents say that a lot, and if you are not a parent yourself, you tend to overlook that part, because the part that sticks with you most, is when those words end with “but it’s all worth it.”
I hate that.
It’s as if being a parent means you can’t be honest about the struggles that come with raising a child. You’re expected to sugarcoat what you really want to say, because children are a miracle from God, and having negative feelings towards being a parent is horrible. Ya'll are gonna spare me the speeches and side eyes.
I’ve never really been the "lets pretend there's nothing hard about raising kids" type of mother. The politically correct responses annoy me. I’ve always been pretty honest about how overwhelming it is, and how it isn’t all breastfeeding on Instagram and cute matching outfits. I’ve never been here to sell anyone a dream when it comes to raising a child. I definitely understand not every experience is the same. Some people may have a really calm and quiet kid who just wants to sit in a corner and read all day. Others have the patience of a saint and just aren’t affected the same way some of us are when children are being... children. But I am sure even THOSE people have their challenges. Every day presenting a new hurdle.
For a long time I felt guilty about my feelings towards being a mom. I think mainly because I felt somehow I was fucked up for feeling how I felt. I didn’t fully yet understand a lot of what I felt was totally normal. I’m raising a human being for fucks sake! This isn’t a puppy that I can just give away because I can’t get it to pee on a wee wee pad, and keeps chewing everything. It’s a living, breathing person. A person who depends on me for absolutely everything. Do you have any idea how insanely draining that is? I no longer belong to me. Someone else calls the shots. Every move I make depends on what is best for this other person, and remember, they didn’t ask to be here. So no point in even letting your thoughts wander.
I resent parents with the week old baby who does nothing but sleep, or those not raising their kids full time (what I call the weekend/fun parent) or those with a nanny, or a live in family member who takes care of the child; but can still say how completely amazing it is to be a parent, and have no idea what the fuck I’m talking about. What a bubble to live in. I know someone who is married with two kids, has a nanny, and can’t even fathom the thought of leaving their s/o alone with the kids for too long... HOW, is that even possible?
I found solace when I had a few conversations with other parents who admit they just don’t enjoy parenting. One person told me their child is happy, has everything a kid could want, but at the expense of their own happiness and freedom... their life. Another person told me they don’t feel like they’ll ever be themselves again, they said “I don’t want to be called selfish, but I can’t give myself for another human being ever again.” It’s a topic not many people are willing to have openly because saying that out loud sometimes just feels disrespectful... but I also believe that comes from the fear of being judged and deemed a bad parent.
One thing parents and those who aren’t parents should understand is that feeling like you don’t enjoy parenting does not mean you do not love or care for your kids.
Your feelings do not make you a bad parent. Those two things are not synonymous. Understand it is ok to feel those feelings. If we didn’t love and care about our children we wouldn’t sacrifice our mental, emotional, and even physical health for them. It’s ok to say you don’t enjoy rushing out of work to go pick up your son from school, hoping to get there in time before the school is calling you to let you know you’re late. It's okay to not like having to wake up in the middle of the night to a crying child who refuses to sleep in their own bed, while you have to be up for work in 3 hours. That shit sucks! No way around that. Who in their right mind can really say they enjoy any of that? Just writing it makes me stressed.
There is no preparing for becoming a parent. No matter how many books you read, classes you take, or how many of your siblings, nephews, and cousins you babysit, there will never be anything that will truly make you understand what it is to be a parent. Until you are one yourself. There is no preparing you for the never-ending worry that comes with being fully responsible for another life. The constant questions you ask yourself over and over, like:
“Can I lay her on her stomach? Is she going to suffocate if I do?”
“What daycare should I put him in?”
“What am I going to do over the summer when they’re not in school, cause you know, I still have to work"
“What if someone is inappropriate with them at school, hell what if it happens at a family member’s house?”
It is such a constant worrisome job. I know some of our parents made it look easy, but it is not. It never was, and it never will. I blame social media for a lot of the fairytales now painted around being a parent. The same way we see the curated lifestyles of people traveling all the time, in the perfect relationship, and only attending the coolest parties, we are also being fed the idea that mothers have it easy, not missing a beat or a facial. Pretty much making children the trendiest and coolest new accessory. It’s fucking bullshit. Instead of focusing on pushing the image of perfection, I think creating a safe space to express your real feelings would be more beneficial.
As parents we all deserve to take time and be honest with ourselves about how having a child has completely changed our lives. And no one should have the authority to take that away from you.
I know there are people who may not agree with anything I am saying here. But I am not trying to reach a consensus. That’s not what this is about. All I want, is to share the other side of parenting without having to add a disclaimer about loving my child. I LOVE MY CHILD. WE love our children, but I also recognize that there's nothing light about raising a kid while balancing your needs as an individual and keeping your sanity.