Though I’d like to think I kept my ideas to myself pre-kid, I know I was the epitome of parenting gnorant. I was partying non-stop, clueless to what true real responsibility felt like, thinking once parenthood did maybe, someday strike I’d be the most laid-back, easy-going, best mom in the world with my hands tied behind my back and a toddler on each boob — no worries! But we all have this fantasy on some level. At least I think we do. It takes going through it to realize that everything looks prettier from the outside and for me that was a tough one to take in.
Now, I resent those criticisms and the warped idealistic view that it’s “not that hard” the way I used to resent crying babies disturbing my fifth Sunday afternoon bloody mary-hangover-fixer- badly. Unfortunately, there’s no use trying to explain a thing to that specific childless person throwing opinions at you or telling you what they will do and why that will work. Same as if anyone had tried to explain anything about mothering to me pre-vagina-ripping-open-life-force-being-pulled-out-and-nothing-was-ever-the-same-ever-ever-again.
The older generation often has their own running commentary, too. Many who believed in a “children are not seen or heard” mentality are confused by modern parents who do things differently. “Why are you all such worry-warts? We let our kids roll around in the backseat, sleep on their bellies, watch TV all day and everyone lived! Attachment parenting? Free-rangers? Ya’ll are nuts, just give em a good whack.” I can’t be the only one who’s heard some derivative of these statements.
Yes, you blew smoke in our faces and only some of us got asthma. We ate white bread and didn’t die or even get fat. But following some modern day guidelines doesn’t make us crazy or uptight. Times have changed and parenting has, too. Maybe in 20 years our society won’t be as obese, stressed and overly medicated as it is today. Maybe? While there is undoubtedly more support for parents of our generation than those of the past, having so much information at our disposal creates an immense amount of pressure to do it well, no, flawlessly.
What adds to the pressure is that we often come into parenting with this perceived notion that a child will make us whole or complete. And we perpetuate this notion for fear of not fitting in, of being judged. For many parents, this image we hold in our minds doesn’t come to fruition. Children bring endless love, which is by far the most amazing part about parenting as far as I can see. But love doesn’t always translate to happiness. Sometimes, not talking about how hard the journey is leads to these unrealistic expectations of what parenting should be. When we are left feeling like we aren’t doing it right or feeling what we are supposed to feel, it’s not uncommon to have some bitterness about your life circumstance. “Why am I not the glowing mother I see in every picture of a woman with a new baby on Facebook? Where’s my freaking glow?”