A Plea for Honesty About Parenthood
[Editor's Note: I thought maternity leave was going to be fun. Did anyone else out there? I imagined three dreamy months bonding with my baby, cooking delicious meals for my husband and me, and yes, being up all night. I did know that much. But a friend of mine said before I wrapped things up at work and went on leave: "It's kind of impossible to explain how crazy it is in the beginning." Huh, I thought. And then I called her up four weeks into my son's reflux-not-eating-enough-failure-to-thrive-couldn't-breastfeed-took-three-hours-to-eat-four-ounces nightmare and burst into tears and cried, "Okay, I get it now." She said, "Yeah, how could I really prepare you for that?"
But Rachel over at Grasping for Objectivity In My Subjective Life isn't giving up on this. And she urges the rest of us not to, as well. To help let people know what we mean when we say, "It's kinda hard." Read her very convincing argument.—Stacy]
Ambassadors for Honesty About Parenthood
She was standing, staring listlessly at the merchandise on the children’s medicine aisle at CVS.
As I searched for Ali’s Ibuprofen, she turned to me and asked, “How do you know what to buy? I mean, there are so many options. It’s just overwhelming!”
I looked into her eyes for the first time. She looked exhausted and despairing, and was carrying an equally tired-looking baby.
“What do you need it for?” “Teething. He was up all night last night, screaming, thrashing his arms, and absolutely miserable.”
"Oh, that's the worst," I said.
We kept talking, discovering that our boys were two weeks apart, discussing about the difficulties of babies, and picking out a pain reliever.
As we were walking away, she looked me in the eyes. “Thank you so much for your help.”
I hadn’t helped with the pain reliever thing that much, but I knew what she meant.
As I got in my car, my heart ached for her. I wanted to do more – I wanted to run back, give her a hug, promise that it gets easier, it gets better, and that she will get to a place where parenthood is enjoyable. There was so much more I wanted to say.
“They get to be so much fun – I promise!!”
“Just wait until the first time that he says ‘ub oo, Mommy’. Your heart will somersault!”
“We’ve all been there – anything you’re feeling right now, I bet I’ve felt it too! You’re not crazy, you’re not alone, you’re not an unfit parent.”