The other day, I was out enjoying an afternoon at the park with the kids, loving life and feeling like I was cheating nature to feel 80 degree sunshine on my face in late September.
When we got home, however, my good mood vanished instantly when my inbox dinged with the most hateful, venomous email I have ever received. I’ll spare you the obscenity-littered details, but, in essence, the email went something to tune of, “You’re a horrible f***ing person who can’t write and needs to shut the heck up about how hard parenting is because you were the one that opened your legs and chose it.”
All righty then.
So while the words definitely got to my psyche (I mean, I’m a writer for public forums, so part of it comes with the territory, but still, I’m not a robot — I do have feelings), I tried to take them with a grain of salt and instead, take the opportunity for a little self-reflection. Abundant f-words aside, was the reader right? Do I complain about parenting too much?
And after sincere contemplation and perhaps one too many glasses of wine, I have come to the conclusion, that no, dear and kind reader, I do not complain about parenting too much. Because what it comes down to is that parenting is like coming face-to-face with the world’s largest magnifying glass pointed right at each and every one of your most secret insecurities. And that’s scary.
The realization that a 2-year-old’s tantrum can send you running in tears is one of the most humbling and mortifying moments of your life. You may be successful in every other aspect of your life — you may be able to run a business and manage thousands of dollars in finances and run a marathon, but nothing can break a person down like the mental (and sometimes physical) challenge of parenting.
Complaining about motherhood or parenting in general, whether that be talking to your friend on the phone about the trials of potty training or writing an article about how hard it can be to take young kids to a restaurant is simply a way of asking, “Am I alone in this? Am I doing a good job? I’m not crazy for loving this one second and wondering why I did this the next, right?”
It may sound weird or selfish to complain about parenting, but I assure you, there’s more going on below the surface of those complaints. Those complaints — usually accompanied with a laugh, I may add — are our way of coping, of connecting and of commiserating. If I’m complaining about something related to parenting, it’s about sharing the challenges with other parents and hearing that, really, I’m not screwing up my kids for life — and sometimes getting that burst of encouragement that we all need now and then to keep going.
So, yes, dear reader, it is OK to complain about motherhood. If we weren’t truthful about how hard it can be to be a parent, the world would end when first-time mothers’ bubbles burst after birth. Yes, parenting is by far the most important thing I have ever done in my life, but it’s also the hardest. I appreciate when other mothers are open and honest about the time that they also lose their minds when they try to shop with their kids or that losing the baby weight isn’t as easy as the Kardashians make it appear. Parents complain because we need to know that we are not alone and we all do it, because deep down, we love our kids more than anything in the whole world.
Even if it seems like we have a strange way of showing it.