We all know that our children are not born with instruction manuals to hand us at their births. No one in the world can warn first-time parents about all of the struggle, strife, hardships, pain, suffering, etc. that go on during the newborn phase. Even if they could, first-time parents wouldn’t listen. There is NO way to understand the magnitude of what you are about to undertake as a parent until you are quite frankly thrown into the proverbial “storm” of it, for lack of a better term.
Have a child, they said. It’ll all be sunshine and rainbows, they said.
Anyone who tells you this is a liar. Anyone who tells you this is doing you an extreme disservice. If this is how you’re heading into the miraculous and brave journey of parenthood, then I’m here to let you know that you are in for the rudest awakening of your entire life.
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Why the Debbie Downer attitude? you might be asking yourself. In no way, shape or form am I saying that being a parent sucks. I’m just trying to be real.
In my opinion, I think it is EXTREMELY important that as parents, we try and keep the real world ideas of parenthood at the forefront of our minds because anything else simply sets us up for disappointment.
Case in point: I’m coming to you today as a mother who has survived extremely severe postpartum depression. Unfortunately, I was not educated on the subject when I had my first child and went into his birth thinking that I was destined to be the best mom in the entire universe. My life’s ambition was to be a mom. I never feared even for a moment that I might be brought down by the crippling monster of fear, shame, regret, anger, and even rage that came along with my PPD diagnosis.
If only I had known what to look for, who to reach out to, how to cope – things might have been different. If only I had known that even though I felt like only a source of food (aka milk factory) to my son, he needed me much more than that. I wish I had known that taking 20 minutes to myself would have made a world of difference. I wish I could have been more honest with myself and those around me that parenthood is nothing like I imagined it would be, and more importantly, that it was OK TO FEEL THAT WAY.
Do I love my children? More than life itself. Is parenting a blast? Sometimes! Do I regret my choice to have children? Absolutely not.
However, I feel that just as it’s important to address those questions, it’s EQUALLY important to address these questions and to do so honestly.
Is parenting the hardest thing I’ve ever done? YES.
Do I feel like giving up some days? YES.
Do I struggle to be a mom/parent? Some days, absolutely!
I find that the more I share all the feelings associated with parenthood (happy, sad, and everything in between), I am happier because I am not holding anything inside and trying to be something that I’m not.
To me as a parent, it is SO important that we not only share our triumphs but also our struggles. It puts us out there and subjects us to possibly scrutiny of others. It makes us feel vulnerable. Those are things that are OK to feel! In being transparent and open about my experience with parenthood, both the good and the bad (and sometimes EXTREMELY bad), I tell my story for another mom or dad to read who might be internalizing their struggle and might be in need of an outlet; a parent who struggles to cope with the everyday ins and outs of parenthood might see that I just “can’t even” with the school drop-off line or the fact that potty training makes me want to pull my hair out and realize that he or she is not alone!
This is not The Stepford Wives! Imagine what your honesty might do for another mom or dad who is struggling? Am I saying to go out and tell every first-time parent every single bad thing that your kids do or open up a huge can of worms by telling them how messy this whole thing is? NO!
The key is being there for other parents and answering questions openly and honestly and with a little tact.
I don’t share the misery of parenthood with people to gain attention. Trust me, if I wanted to do it for that purpose, I wouldn’t share my horror stories! I don’t seek attention during bad situations. I bring light to the bad situations to let people know that they DO happen and that it is OK. Parenthood can be SO isolating! Transparency is important in parenthood because we’re all in this together! We’re all trying to achieve one very important goal: To raise decent human beings!
I think if we were all a little more transparent, we’d find that we all have a lot more in common than we think.