Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Harsh Realities

There seems to be a movement right now that encourages parents to admit that, on some days, parenting kind of sucks. I think this is a powerful movement, and I know that there's power in being honest with one another. Making struggling parents feel guilty for not enjoying and cherishing every single movement, making them feel like terrible people and parents for wanting to punt their children into the neighbor's yard, that's not helpful.

But honestly? It's all fuel to my fire, reminding me why I've made my decision.

I have several friends with toddlers right now, and others who've recently gotten past the "hell years", as one mom who just got through those years put it. "Oh god, 2 is the very worst." "3 and 4 are the worst. I don't envy you." I'm hearing it over and over. I'm seeing it in their mommy blogs, reading it on their Facebook pages, hearing about it on instant message. It's the rants, the frustration, the agony. "I understand why people hit their kids."

But it's not just that. I'm hearing it from the parents of newborns too, how just a few weeks in they're at their wits' end because they're not handling the sleep deprivation well, or the boredom after working consistently every day of their adult lives. "I understand why people shake their babies," my goddaughter's mother admitted after the third long, colicky night.

You have to really want it to cope well with the realities of parenting. The more I hear from my friends, the more I understand that parenting is no job for a fence-sitter. I'm well and truly over any fences now (funny how a European vacation can do that), but in the moments when I think parenting could be cool I think back to the hard stuff, the moments that are currently driving a number of my girlfriends absolutely crazy. The ones that need to be disclaimer'ed to hell and gone so everyone understands that there are beautiful moments mixed in with the contemplations about how bad it could REALLY be to give a toddler a shot of whiskey to help them sleep.

I'm so grateful that my friends live in a world where it's safe to talk about how hard parenting can be. It helps new parents understand what they're in for in a way that I don't think previous generations were allowed. They were told it was the best time of their lives, that the kids grow so fast you have to love every moment, that you have to do everything right 100% of the time or you're a bad person. Even the parents of 10-year-olds I know didn't get that freedom. Not like today.

Today they can cry out in solidarity when potty training isn't going well and they just decide to put the potty trainer in front of the television because at least then he'll sit on it until he has to go. That's powerful stuff, and I think it's going to help this generation of new parents do a much better job.

It's also something I feel fortunate I'm not a part of. I'll sit back and listen, experiencing parenting vicariously through them while thanking the powers that be that my house won't ever have a poop-covered toddler running around… and if that does happen, it's not my problem to deal with it. 


Meg said...

Had so many of these same thoughts while at a baby shower today. People were being very honest and... it made me feel nothing but relief that I can skip out on the whole experience.

Anonymous said...

I babysit a lot. I can't imagine NOT getting paid to take care of kids. Its not too bad when there's just one. But add just ONE sibling... and they ALWAYS fight! And whine!