Parents – friends (we are friends, aren’t we?),
I’m going to start by stating the obvious: Parenting is hard, damn hard.
As much as we don’t want to admit it or talk about it, lest someone think that we don’t appreciate being a parent or don’t love our children as much as we should, the simple truth is that parenting is damn hard. Of course, it is amazing and wonderful and meaningful, but it is also really fucking hard.
But as we know, it’s possible to love something even though it’s really hard and kind of sucks sometimes. It is possible to love being a parent, but not like it all the time. And it is possible to love our children, without loving (or even liking) every minute we spend with them.
These realities, though they may seem like inconsistencies, are not surprising to me or all that difficult for me to reconcile. I’m pretty comfortable with the conflicting emotions I sometimes feel about motherhood and my children. And I’m OK with parenting being hard and kind of sucky sometimes, while at the same time being fulfilling and meaningful and wonderful.
I will say it again: Parenting is hard, damn hard. I know this and you know this, but what we don’t know is that the other person knows this. And so we sit over in our respective corners of the parenting world knowing that it is hard and confusing and heartbreaking sometimes, yet believing that everyone else has it easier, that everyone else knows what they’re doing, that we are the only one who thinks that parenting is this hard.
It’s just me, you might tell yourself.
One of the biggest shocks of parenting, for me, has been the absolutely brutal and crushing loneliness that I’ve felt at times, exacerbated by the lack of authenticity, truth, and openness with which many other parents are willing to talk about parenting. In my nearly nine years as a parent, I have encountered some really tough parenting issues, not to mention your run-of-the-mill concerns and questions as well, and each and every time I faced a difficult situation, there was a nagging and persistent fear that it was just me, that I was the only one, that I was all alone making the whole thing that much worse.
And so, I am here to tell you that whatever it is you are going through – whether it’s a hard day or a hard month or a hard year, whether you can’t get your baby to sleep through the night or your preschooler to poop on the toilet, whether you’ve been doubting every parenting decision you’ve ever made or feel a little bit like SuperMom today – IT’S NOT JUST YOU. Someone has been there. Someone knows what you are going through. Someone can relate, empathize, understand.
If you’ve ever felt like you’re completely unqualified to be a grown-up, let alone a parent;
If you’ve ever thought I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing;
If you’ve ever cried yourself to sleep at night because your child was hurt or scared or in trouble and you didn’t know how to help or couldn’t help or thought that maybe this once you shouldn’t help;
If you’ve ever sat in the bathroom for five, ten, fifteen minutes pretending to be pooping while you scroll though Facebook or text your BFF about the assholery that is toddlerhood (“assholery” is a word, right?);
If you’ve ever hidden in the car or pretended to fold laundry or taken an extra-long time sorting socks just for a few minutes alone;
If you’ve ever wondered how it’s possible to love your child with all your heart while not liking them very much;
If you’ve ever wanted to ditch your family to spend a night or two or three in a hotel by yourself, ordering room service and watching Lifetime movies the entire time;
If you’ve ever actually ditched your family for a night or two or three in a hotel by yourself, ordering room service and watching Lifetime movies the entire time;
If you’ve ever been frustrated or annoyed or angry that your kid is THAT kid and wondered why everything has to be so goddamn hard;
If you’ve ever regretted having kids – if only for a moment – only to immediately be consumed by guilt for having that thought, however fleeting, in the first place;
If you’ve ever wondered why you dropped eighty grand on that college education only to clean boogers and wipe butts and refer to yourself in the third person;
If you’ve ever muttered fuck you under your breath at your kids or your husband or both;
If you’ve ever wondered what your life would have looked without kids; or
If you’ve ever felt your heart swell ten sizes at once, cried tears of gratitude and awe, and understood what they meant when they said being a parent is like carrying your heart outside your body, then
Please know that IT’S NOT JUST YOU.
You aren’t the only one.
You aren’t alone.