Weak debate here......Alone
NPR's Alan Greenblatt, shown with his family, says that on some days, parenthood is not all lavender and honey.
Can we all agree on one thing? Having a baby is not just a fabulous, enriching experience that opens up your capacity for love and endless opportunities for personal growth.
It's also miserably hard work.
A baby is like the worst houseguest ever: endlessly demanding, keeping you up at all hours, needing to be fed and making a mess of the whole place.
And the little darling never leaves.
People don't talk about this enough. It's really hard, being a parent. At times, it's crushing. But you're never allowed to say this.
Admitting that the kids are wearing you down — even if you carefully point out that you're just going through a bad patch and will probably be fine in an hour — seems to be taken as some kind of statement that you don't love them.
Lately, we've been visiting friends who have newborns — newborn twins, or new babies following behind other still small, still needy children. The parents are clearly so worn out. Their eyes tell the whole story. But rather than saying, "I am this close to losing it," their voices get a little high and they say things like, "Well ... he really is beautiful ..."
Parents allow themselves only the most generic of complaints. This is one reason why there's so much talk about diapers, which are basically impersonal — no comment on my child in particular — and, ultimately, a fleeting problem.
They may cop to not getting much sleep. But they never follow up by saying, "I'm so exhausted, I feel like I'm not going to make it. I really do believe at this point that sleep deprivation is torture."
People feel the need to extol the joy a child has brought into their lives, even and especially at those moments when their frustration or anxiety might be at its peak. Embarrassed at having admitted any weakness at all in their parenting game, they try instantly to brighten and say, "But it's the best thing we've ever done."
No. Not always. Let's be real. There are countless times when being a parent is genuinely a struggle. You are going to be tired. Your relations with your spouse or partner will get strained. You will have to give up things you used to enjoy.
Your child truly has nothing better to do some days than to try to wear you down, whether it's to test loopholes in your no-cookies-before-dinner policy or simply to say "no" to every question you ask, even if it's, "Do you want to go to the zoo?"
I don't mean at all to suggest that having kids is bad. Just that sometimes it can get you down. Parents do themselves — and their peers — no favors by pretending otherwise.
In contemporary culture, we're able to share almost every other type of problem. Say you got mugged — all your friends will tell you their crime stories. Admit that there are members of your family with mental illness, and you'll be amazed how many people struggle with the same issues.
But parents are not expected to complain, to say how — maybe just on this particular day, at this very hour — it's not all lavender and honey. Instead, a creeping feeling of inadequacy and social isolation only makes those bad parenting days worse.
Parents: Let's make a deal. Let's be honest with each other, or at least one friend, that there are times when the whole enterprise feels like a bad idea. Let's be less alone with this and maybe even laugh about it, putting aside for just a few minutes the earnest need always to say, omigod it's so great.
It seems only fair. The one thing we all do is complain about our parents.
Is the bolded true? Do you feel as though parents are not able to be honest about the fact that parts of parenting can be flat out impossible? Is this a new thing? If you think that it is a relatively new thing, what do you blame it on?
In my group of friends/family we're all pretty honest about how hard it can be. At times, it borders on competitions of who's got it worse, lol. Even on my latest fb status a friend is being honest about her lack of sleep with her new baby. Maybe I wouldn't be quite so honest around someone I don't know, though.
I do think the hard parts should be talked about. Strength in numbers, kwim? It's always good to have someone's shoulder to cry on without judgement when it comes to being a mom or dad, but I bet mom's are more likely to do this.
I was talking to a resident the other day because he asked me if I was okay (I wasn't my cheery, usual self). I said, "Well, to be honest, Jace is acting like an a$$hole." But you know what, he totally understood because he's cool like that. We both laughed and it really helped for me to just vent. He is a father and understand kids do act horrible at times but as parents, we still love our children and don't really think they are a$$holes
I don't think this is really a new thing, but it has gotten worse with all these parenting trends. The sanctimommy is the new black, and realistic mommy is so 10 years ago.
I offered both my kids to my SIL today for a jar of peaches (on facebook) I dont have much problem complaining about my kids. Every stage has issues and I often find I get good advise and suggestions, or even just commiseration from other parents. I do admit that I most often complain to my mommy friends though, and I wouldnt say alot of things to a stranger.
Mom to Arianna (5), Conner (3) and Trent (my baby)
I'm just shocked to hear this idea that it is somehow taboo to talk about it being hard.
I mean ~ REALLY? I feel like I read complaints daily on here (the site, not the board) about how people are saying things like "SLEEP NOW CAUSE YOU WON'T EVER GET IT AGIAN hardy har har" or hear folks talk about the "terrible twos" or see my friends host "Moms brunch" on the first day back to school (to celebrate the kids going away, of course).
I really don't get this segment of society who feels unable to talk about reality. It can feel like the hardest, most tear inducing, herculean task......ever. We are freaking responsible for these people, it can be super scary and frustrating!
I would bet think that my girlfriends and I spend about 20% of our time together talking about how sometimes we feel like failures and or get driven crazy with guilt or a sense of shortcoming. The rest of the time we are drinking wine and getting pedicures and having bookclubs and being happy and feeling like we are doing a great job and whatnot, of course Still........20% is a LOT of our conversation! How do people NOT talk about this?
Last edited by Potter75; 08-31-2011 at 06:51 AM.
I don't feel alone. I have friends/sisters who either feel the same or similar as I do. I have good days and bad days, just like everyone else. I freaking love my kid, but sometimes he's a butt an pushes my buttons (not on purpose, obviously, he's only 11 months). I don't worry about being judged when I say "Will's off today" because I know every kid has an off day once in a while, and I'm not alone.
Last edited by azin_may; 08-30-2011 at 10:24 PM.
Among my friends we totally share the bad sides and are open about how hard it is. Maybe bc we surround ourselves with friends who all have more than two kids....it seems something happens to parents once you have more kids than parents....
I don't feel at all alone. Yes it is hard, yes it is demanding. There are times we feel conflicted and frustrated and it certainly ain't all lavender and honey-- but who thinks that is what they are getting into anyways?
On the flipside, I don't think it is as terrible as some make it out to be. We tried to watch the movie "Motherhood" last night and both dh and I had to turn it off bc the mother was so whiny, woe is me, my life is so hard/terrible that we couldn't stand it....parenting is hard, but not impossible.
DD 8.03, DD 6.05, DS 3.07, DD 5.09, and DS arrived 6.17.12
Sometimes no and sometimes yes. I have no problem whatsoever talking about the trials of a young child with my friends and family. But the truth is that most of the people who really get it are parents or have spent a lot of time with young children. As an exhausted parent you can see that look in the eyes of another. Sometimes you don't have to say the words, you just get it! And then you take the baby so that poor parent can go and have a nap!
On the other hand we have a bachelor friend who does not get it at all! When DD was a new born (with colic) and DH was sick for a year he would come over and make comments (or just looks) about the dishes, the smell of diapers, the cheerio coating on the carpet etc. All those things that I didn't have it in me to care about at the time. It actually put a serious damper on our friendship cause I didn't feel that I could have him around without feeling like crap for not having a clean house and an easy infant. We have another friend (a dad even) who doesn't say anything but I can see that look in his eyes if he sees the scatter of child debris. He at least has the good sense to say nothing!
So I think it can go either way and it depends on the person and their experience with kids. Some will understand and some just never will. It can be easier not to discuss it with those who don't understand. But those who do can be the best thing in the world when you are in that spot and need to vent about the adorable little poop machine who won't let you sleep!
I think it is all in how the complaining is done. I think we all know people that all they do is complain. I hate hearing how hard parenting is from people like that. Today my good friend said she is so ready for school to start and I thought amen sister. Never would I think it was lack of love for her.
My favorite saying is "Parenting is a lot like being pecked to death by chickens" Some days my mom and sister will stand behind me and say "Peck peck peck" when I am being asked for things by all four kids at one time. They know how much I love my kids, but they see how hard it can be on any given day.
Molly, Morgan, Mia and Carson