Monday, August 30, 2010

A conspiracy?

The first rule of Parenthood is: you do not talk about how difficult it is. The second rule of Parenthood is: you do not talk about how difficult it is.

I think it's a bit of a conspiracy that parents never really admit how difficult raising a child is, particularly the first few weeks & months. I can think of a few reasons for this:
  1. Rather than a duty or social obligation, having children in our culture is more or less seen as a personal choice, so the attitude seems to be: "Well, you've made your bed, now lie in it!".
  2. Admitting that it's the hardest thing in the world & we made a bunch of stupid mistakes along the way is a bit humiliating.
  3. We think we're supposed to just do all this naturally & don't want to admit to others that we don't know what we're doing, or how steep the learning curve really is. Nobody wants to admit that they wanted to toss their baby out the window.
  4. We do some parenthood math: balancing out the joys with the stress, anxiety & sleep-deprivation, the bottom line being net positive.
  5. Post-partum depression is a mental illness & our society still doesn't accept mental illness as valid or guilt-free in the way that something like cancer is accepted, so few women talk about it.
  6. If we were honest about it & the childless actually believed us when we told them what it was like, they would never have kids.
 What do you think? For those of you who haven't got children, have you ever had a really frank conversation with a parent about how hard it was? For the parents out there reading this, do you tell people honestly what the really hard stuff it is/was like?


  1. If I told someone who is not a parent yet how difficult it really is (especially having a preemie) they would think that I am trying to scare them or are assuming that they are stupid and cannot figure it out. Some parent's experiences are a lot harder than others (I saw that early in the NICU). We get through it; some of us a little more insane.

    Also, if someone did not go through my experiences then my stories or warnings seem useless and I seem weak for believing that it was difficult in the eyes of someone who will never walk in my shoes.

    It's like telling someone how beautiful Prague is even though they have never been there. You only know when you get there. Books and stories do not do it justice.

    So when someone tells you that they are ready for a baby because they have a cat you laugh to yourself and wish them luck.

  2. I thought I was pretty honest about how hard it was, but maybe it has never really come up in conversation with you! ;)

    For me, parenting does not come very easily. The learning curve was steep, and guilt was paralyzing for everything.

    The second(and third) time around, having a newborn is much easier for me, and I can relax and enjoy it more. Especially the breastfeeding. Even though I was chained to the pump for 6 weeks too.

    It is by far the hardest job I have ever done, especially since I am on call to 3 bosses, 24/7. I may be in the minority, but I find the newborn baby stage the hardest because there is very little feedback from the child. You feed, burp, change, bathe, carry, just screams or sleeps.

    Once they are awake longer, and smile, laugh, reach for you, search a crowd for you, and their little faces light up when they see you? That's when I feel all those exhausting times were worth it. When my little 4 year old remembers things I taught him, and teaches others-that's when I feel it was all worth it.

    You'll get will get better. Believe me!


  3. hmmm... maybe my memory is selective about child-rearing nightmare stories. I recall many horror tales about births, which, thankfully, my experience this time can't hold a candle to. I've heard a lot about how difficult it is dealing with twins or preemies, of course. Maybe I got the impression that a full-term singleton would be easy?


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