The Unhappy Truth About Parenting?
When I was pregnant for the first time, a bundle of emotions and images ran through me; I imagined hours of playing patty-cake with my baby, singing lullabyes and nursery rhymes, dancing and playing endless peek-a-boo. I saw my husband becoming a doting dad, throwing catch in the yard, fishing expeditions with his future son and camp outs. It must have been all the hormones that made me see my future life through those rose colored glasses because that’s far from how life turned out.
Peek-a-boo bored me quickly and it felt like an eternity for that first smile to show up. The baby didn’t understand my humor, talking to him all day long felt like talking to a wall most days, and that doting dad image… it turned into a husband who worked 2 jobs for the first seven years of marriage. That left little time for fishing, catch or doting –on the babies or me.
Needless to say, the children depressed me and not in a postpartum kind of way, (though I did have a bought with PPD after Shorty was born). No, this depression was a feeling of being unsatisfied. Let down. Disappointed. Now that I’m the mom of four very active children, I figured out that I just plain old didn’t like children as much as I thought I would.
It’s the honesty card of parenting that many don’t like to play. Instead we look for “happy” moments, like the first steps and the first words, first days of school (that’s party day for me) and it took me 13 years and four children later to admit and be honest that parenting can be downright depressing, draining, and as enjoyable as a wet cat. Admitting that I wasn’t having the kind of fun I thought motherhood would bring to me felt shameful, scary, and wrong on so many levels at the time. But I put it out there nonetheless and you know what? No one has revoked my parenting license (yet).
Today I don’t feel as ashamed to say how I feel about parenting. Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten a little bolder in the last two years, maybe it has something to do with I’m able to accept that I can love and really not like my kids at the same time, and maybe it has to do with the fact that psychologists and family experts are studying how parents really feel about parenting, and now I KNOW that I’m not alone.
Moms talk about feeling less validated than they thought they would quietly among their close friends, bold bloggers and writers are speaking out as well, but learning that over 900 other women would rather do housework than care for their kids makes me feel… at peace with my own emotions to say the least (and for the record, I would not pick housework).
Whatever the reasoning, I still wholeheartedly believe that it’s okay and even healthy for parents to be honest about how we feel about our roles. It’s tough! Not everyone wants to do it, and even men and women who looked forward to being a parent their entire lives are saying “I didn’t expect things to be this way”. We shouldn’t feel shamed or sad or even guilty about owning these feelings.
In the end though, as selfish as we would like to feel and cry out in our heads, “what about me?!” we know that it’s not about us, it really is about making sure that our children have what we didn't have or couldn't have had. It's often the tough choices and chores that make us unhappy.
If we could throw all of the hard parenting decisions out the window, would we be much happier and more fulfilled parents?