When my youngest son was about one, I was feeding him in his high chair. He was making a mess as my older son was running around in circles with a full diaper. I had just put their sister down for her afternoon nap and was trying to get my son cleaned up so I could put him down, too.
I asked my husband to please get our older son to quiet down so his brother and sister could help with my (then) mother-in-law who was visiting us (and let me know she could have done it all herself with one hand tied behind her back when she was raising her kids).
Apparently she did everything and her husband didn’t help with any of the kid stuff because he worked outside the home and “it was her job to care for the children.”
Since then, I’ve heard a lot of this bullshit about how this generation of mothers are so ‘‘dramatic” about raising kids, and how hard we make it.
When I was pregnant with my first child eighteen years ago, I got a lot of advice from older generations. I counted on this because I was the first of my friends and family to get pregnant and I wanted to know everything.
I was told childbirth didn’t hurt that much and you forget about the pain.
No one I talked to had trouble breastfeeding.
No one spoke a word after the postpartum poo or how much I wouldn’t want to have sex for months after having a baby.
I had no idea I was going to bleed for a month until my doctor told me.
I was in the dark about bleeding nipples and breast infections.
These women had a few kids and never talked about the sheer madness of having a toddler and a newborn.
And now, because Millennials and Gen-Xers talk about these truths and how hard it is and how tired we are, we are called dramatic.
We are told we are making parenting harder than it should be.
We are mocked and they seem to think just because people have done it before us, that raising kids isn’t that hard.
Well, just because something has been done for hundreds of generations doesn’t mean the hard is magically swept out of the equation.
And maybe their memory is selective because their kids have been gone for a while, but I believe with all my being if we were to go back in time and sit and talk with any of these women who had a child at home, then gave birth and tried to care for a newborn and infant, they would say it was the hardest thing they’d ever done.
After all my mother’s talks about how the baby would sleep and I’d have plenty of time to do things around the house, be a great little housewife, and my body would “bounce back” in no time, I called bullshit and told her she either had a different experience than I did, or she was a big liar.
It was then she remembered a story her grandmother told her about suffering from postpartum depression and sending her four kids away for six months after she had her last daughter. “In those days, people called it melancholy and there was no diagnosis — it didn’t even have a name. People just called on family members to take care of their children for them until they got over it.”
She also told me how hard it was to stay home with me and my sisters while my father worked and how lonely she was while we were little.
Then, a friend of the family called me right before I had my second child. She was a nurse and lactation consultant and she was the first person who got real with me. “You shouldn’t be carrying your son around until you are completely healed, and make sure your husband takes a week off of work to help you. There is a huge change between having one child and two children.”
I’d never felt so validated. Everyone else talked to me like I should be able to handle this; like it was easy; like people had done it for so long so it shouldn’t be a problem.
Just because someone has done something you are about to do, or you are doing, doesn’t mean it’s not difficult.
Parenting is the most taxing thing you will ever do. That doesn’t mean you don’t love your kids or enjoy it. It means it’s fucking hard, regardless of how many people have mothered before you.
It hasn’t been until very recently that women have been getting real about just how hard it is to be a mom and what’s expected of us. We don’t have to parade around like it’s easy, nor do we need to be shamed for telling it like it is and admitting our life is a live shit show all the time.
It’s not being dramatic: it’s being honest and real.
And let me tell you, it wasn’t until people started being honest and real I was able to give myself some grace around parenting. We all deserve that.
So let’s stop with calling moms who are honest about childbirth and raising kids “dramatic.” Those rose-colored glasses some women wear while telling moms how easy parenting should be for us need to be thrown out, because all they are doing is making us feel like there’s something wrong with us.
There isn’t. Keeping it real is the best thing we can do — for ourselves, and for the future generations of moms.
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