Ah, the joys of parenthood.
“Cherish every moment,” you hear. “It goes so fast!”
Yeah, well, when entering the active labor stage was your last relaxing evening at home, I assure you— not fast enough.
Yes, there are plenty of joyful moments. But there are plenty of miserable ones, which are exactly the ones I wished people talked about. The old cliché misery loves company is exactly why parent support groups were created. Parenthood isn’t always great. I know I’m not always great. Let’s face it. No one loves being a parent all of the time. Despite how it might feel, you are not alone not alone in admitting any of these things:
We’re Not Bonding. Seconds after my son’s first cries, I experienced an overwhelming rush of emotion. Only it wasn’t quite how everyone prophesized. “Oh no!” I thought. “They’re going to want me to hold him!”
Two weeks later I still wasn’t keen on holding him or changing his diapers, or dressing him in any of the organic onsies I spent months curating. I didn’t administer any sponge baths. I could not perform a single one of the Five S’s. I barely remembered to take pictures.
Spoiler alert: I am now so attached to my child I want to shove him right back in my uterus so I can carry him all day, but the motherhood switch doesn’t flip the second the cord is cut. Some of us just require a longer “getting to know you” period.
Breastfeeding Sucks. See what I did there? Four million lactation consultants and one psychic attempted to feed this baby. My postpartum diet consisted of fenugreek seeds and Mother’s Milk tea.
Breastfeeding was a constant struggle and took a toll on my confidence. If I couldn’t succeed at “the most natural thing in the world,” what business did I have being a mom? But I soldiered on because BREAST IS BEST (and okay, the superhero ability to burn four million extra calories a day.)
Guess what constant stress about your milk supply does to your milk supply? Ding ding! My kid will have all sorts of issues no doubt (his mom still sleeps with a teddy bear, binge watched Bravo television while pregnant, spends 75% of the day talking in a voice she made up for the cat…) but resource guarding doesn’t have to be one of them. Supplementing with formula would have alleviated a lot of pressure. Breast is great, but making sure your child is fed is best.
I Love Working. When my friends returned to work, they cried for weeks. Meanwhile, in an alternate universe, I was seriously considering cutting my leave short.
I like a schedule. I like routine. I like eating lunch with two hands. I (purposely) never spent much time with babies so I was completely ill-prepared to spend fourteen weeks with one. Babies are sporadic. They’re temperamental. They do not belong in public places! I envied my husband who went to work on two hours of choppy sleep and dealt with adults, deadlines, and meetings that didn’t involve the rhythmic chanting of breast pumps or a very hungry caterpillar. Why doesn’t he try staying home, watching Millionaire Matchmaker marathons, and sometimes holding a baby, huh?
I Love Daycare. In week twelve of my thirteen-week leave, I started to hit my stride. Sleep training was working. Baby was proving to be rather durable. We even went outside sometimes. And then the day came. As I was donning my most inconspicuous pair of maternity jeans and flowiest top, I burst out crying.
“I need more time with him!” I sobbed.
I cried all the way to daycare until Miss Brenda swooped in with open arms and bright smile and lead him to “morning meeting” (book reading time). I knew he would be okay and was pretty sure I would be too.
Turns out putting our son in daycare is one of our best parenting moves to date. He’s smart, he’s socialized, he’s active, and he’s racking up the birthday party invites. Every good thing he knows he probably learned from his teachers. (Yelling “Dammit” while banging the remote on the coffee table is totally on us.)
Some Kids are Jerks. Loving your own child doesn’t guarantee you’ll love everyone else’s. If anything, being a parent makes you even more judgey and intolerant. Sure, I’m slightly more patient with screaming newborns on airplanes and more likely to commiserate with the mom dragging her screaming toddler out of Target, but let’s face it: Some kids are just little jerks. You’re probably not going to like them when they’re older, so why get emotionally invested now?
My Kid is a Jerk. Despite what the grandparents say, your child is not perfect. Some days they’re your little smoochie-moochie bear, and other days they’re maniacal, vitriolic and Mum Mums-spewing tyrants ranting like Donald Trump on Twitter. My sweet, funny, charming toddler pinches the dog, throws his trains, demands MORE ELMO while we are WATCHING ELMO. Some days I hear more “No’s” than a punching dummy in a self-defense class. Maybe they had a crappy night of sleep. Maybe they’re hungry or coming down with something. Or maybe, just maybe, your kid is human and prone to jerky behavior.
These aren’t the moments you’re supposed to cherish but don’t worry— it really does go by fast.
About the Author
Shelly Mazzanoble is an author and playwright who has published essays and short stories with Scary Mommy, Carve, Whetstone, The Seattle Times, and more. Additionally she has published two books about Dungeons & Dragons. (Yep, Dungeons & Dragons.) She spends a lot of time writing about her two-year old son and will continue to do so until he understands the meaning of the word “litigation” and is pretty sure if PEPs were high-school, she’d be voted “Most Improved.” At least she hopes so. Connect with Shelly on Twitter, Facebook, and her blog.