One of my closest friends has chosen not to be a parent and raise children of her own. While I have three of my own and write a column on parenting, I wholeheartedly support her decision. Truth be told, parenting is really hard work. And I completely understand if it’s not your cup of tea. We become parents either by accident or design, but the one thing we all have in common is that none of us are ever prepared for it.
Sure, we read the books, the websites, the funny forwards and tweets on the various aspects of parenting but we are never truly ready. And just when you get used to one stage of parenthood, your child then says, “So, you think you’ve got a handle on the baby stage – the sleepless nights and the colic. Now, let’s see how you react to the toddler tantrums. Haha.” Each stage brings its own share of challenges and is designed to test our boundaries. And to make matters worse, we put so much pressure on ourselves to be the perfect parent.
We look at other parents’ social media feed and we see “how perfect they all are”. Their children are constantly winning awards for something or the other. Their children all eat healthy, organic food and turn their nose up at chips and chocolates. Their children look scrubbed clean and fresh in “white” (with absolutely no stains) clothes. Their family looks so happy, posing together for the camera in some exotic locale. Their family does fun, outdoor activities every weekend. And we all want to project the same image of ourselves.
So, we hide. We don’t talk about it at all. The ‘seedy underbelly’ of parenting. But, it’s there. The ‘behind the scenes‘ that we don’t share on social media. As parents, we all have days where we haven’t gotten out of our pyjamas till four in the afternoon or sometimes at all. There are days when we have slept straight through the alarm ringing in the morning and there has been a frantic rush to make it to school on time. Having dropped the kids to school, we promptly come back and sleep for a couple of hours to make it through the rest of the day.
We have moments where we cry out of sheer exhaustion and frustration. We give them easy, convenient meals that are loaded with junk because we are too tired to make the effort. We shout and scream like banshees because they are fighting with each other yet again and we are just completely and utterly fed up. You lose the ability to sustain an adult conversation with your little midget interrupting you every few minutes. You forget what it’s like to have a shower without someone banging incessantly on the door asking, “What are you doing inside and why are you taking so long?”
It’s time to do ourselves a favour and admit it. It’s okay. We all need to confess. We can’t deny it anymore. Start with a small whisper in a dark room, slowly acknowledging the truth to people, until you can scream it out loud from the rooftops…Parenting is hard!
It takes almost everything out of you. It changes you and your life as you know it. Some days are good and others not so much. Some days, we know exactly what we are doing and sometimes, we are winging it. When we hide the realities of parenting, we brush issues under the carpet. We ignore the toll that it can take on our physical and mental health. Everybody else is managing just fine. There must be something wrong with me.
The parenting community is the largest community in the world. Being a parent connects you to billions of people across the world, irrespective of caste, creed or gender. And yet, we don’t take advantage of this community. The fact that each one of us has been through or is going through something similar. Share the good, the bad and the ugly. Share a more wholesome perspective of our world. This will allow us as a community to become more empathetic, more accepting and less judgmental of each other. Move away from “who’s the better parent” conversations. Either way, we are doing our best and loving our children every single day. Let’s try to not take ourselves so seriously.
Laugh a little, w(h)ine a little…share your highs and lows.
Don’t paint a rosy picture all the time. Seek help and support. Acknowledge that while we love being a parent and it fills the deepest part of our soul with so much love and gratitude, there are times that we want to head for the hills and that’s okay! Moaning or cribbing about parenting doesn’t make us a bad parent, it just makes us human.