There’s something that’s been bothering me to no end lately.
It could’ve started when I re-read that awesome blog post by Emily Writes, where she explained that even if you *think* you’re being helpful by reminding parents to be grateful, it’s actually a dangerous thing to do.
To me, it feels like people are trying to suppress how we really feel. That it’s fucking hard, you guys. So hard. And it can be hard, but you can love it all the same. But it can be really dangerous to basically dismiss an expectant couple, or a parent when they don’t gush about how they love every minute of their life. You’re doing to us now, what you did to us as children, you’re telling us that what we feel is wrong. That we shouldn’t fuss. That we should just toughen up and get over it because previous generations had it hard and we have everything, now. So we hide it.
The real fuck up of all of this, is that we even start to hide it from each other. Our fellow pregnant mothers. Our fellow parents. I’ve seen it in my own circle! We post only the most perfect pics on social media, we talk about how great something went and NOT how we failed (and learned a great lesson in doing so). We lie and say everything is fine, when really it’s not, and we edit ourselves to not come across as anything but perfect. It’s weird, and it’s disturbing.
For every blogger, parent, or celebrity who publicly talks about the challenges of parenthood, there are probably three or four more who tell us that they “don’t do excuses!” or that they “live the organised life! And my kids are sooooooooooo happy!” or that “motherhood was the best thing that’s ever happened to me and every moment is a joy, especially when my kids are screaming and won’t sleep and crap and spew everywhere!!!!”*. Ugh.
Well, I’m just going to come right out and say it: We have a responsibility.. Actually NO, a duty of care to be honest with each other. To tell someone when we’re feeling low. To reach out when we need company. To ask for help from family or friends. To be open about the hard days.
And we also have a responsibility to build each other up. To acknowledge that yesterday was hard, but today is better and every day after that will get a little bit closer better too. We should be little beacons of hope for our fellow parents! Encouraging each other, telling our tales of woe, of humour, of success. Finding the joy in parenthood despite the hard bits.
When I pass another mum in the supermarket, with kids screaming or fighting, and I smile at her in sympathy and encouragement I also scream at her inside my head “it’s you today but it’ll be me tomorrow. Today, for you, is hard. But if I can do it, you can do it too. I believe in you! I believe in your strength!”
Look, here’s an obvious one: There’s a 100% chance that you will not love every fucking moment of parenting. It’s just a fact. Even for those babies who were a long, long, long time wanted – they will still challenge you. And you will have to dig deep and decide that today? you will just keep going. You will not panic about the future, and you will not count the continuous days and nights of no sleep, or eating with one hand, or facewipe showers. You will just keep going.
I wish I could say I knew how to fix this fake shit, but I’m just one person. One mother. But for starters, I’m honest. I tell people who I trust when it’s crap and I wish I could quit everyone and just move to France. On the other hand, I also tell them when things are going well and I celebrate my little successes, like when we’ve had an unprecedented month of good health. Or when I’ve actually slept for longer than 7 hours in any given night. I also try to always offer an open ear to listen, and give advice when asked. Or to just prove my inexperience and say, “I’m so sorry. I don’t know the answer to that parenting problem, and it sounds really hard. Can I make you a coffee? Would you like a biscuit?”
I think we can do it. It sure seems better the longer I’ve been in the mother-hood. But there’s also that underbelly of denial and dismissal and we’ve got to just keep pushing past it and ignore the signs when we’re struggling.
For ourselves, for our kids, for all future parents we owe honestly and support to every one of us.
How open and honest do you like to be about your experience of parenting?
*probably word for word