Over the weekend I found myself sitting in my dark closet and sobbing uncontrollably. I’ll spare you the details of all that led up to it, but suffice it to say that it’s not the first time and it certainly won’t be the last. And the “cry locations” vary–sometimes it’s the pantry or laundry room and sometimes it’s the car–basically anywhere my 3-year-old won’t see me hating parenthood.
That’s right, I said it: Being a parent sucks.
I heard the collective intake of air from those of you judging.
How could she say that?
Parenting is such an awesome thing!
Kids are such blessings!
True. All of that is true. Despising parenthood on occasion doesn’t mean that I don’t love my child more than life itself or that I hate being a parent all the time. Sometimes the love for my kid and parenting swells my heart so big that I’m sure it’s going to burst out of my chest. Other times? I end up in the closet sobbing and wondering what happened to my sense of self and my old life.
The thing that I don’t get is why “parenting sucks” are hushed words that we only whisper to another parent over coffee or write to another reluctantly in an email, contemplating over and over before we actually hit send? Why are we ashamed of it?
Here’s why: We’re afraid of the judgement. (Yes, you know who you are. You’re the ones with your finger itching to click away from this post right now.) People judge you if you don’t confess undying love for parenting every single second of the day. But, here’s the thing: It sucks. It consumes you. It takes away your life. In many cases, it takes away the identity of who you are/used to be. If your job–the one that someone pays you to do–made you feel this way, you would talk to everyone who would listen about how awful it is. But because parenting deals with kids and family, we make it a taboo topic, not allowing ourselves permission to speak about it in a derogatory way lest we think ourselves failures (or worse yet, someone else thinks we are a failure).
A few weeks ago a mom emailed me and asked if I liked being a parent. My response was something like, “If you are asking if there are days when I want to bash my head against a mirror and use the shards to carve curse words into my legs, then yes. I have those days. Sometimes everyday.” I didn’t hear back from her so I was afraid my imagery was a little much. When I reached out to her, she let me know just how much it meant to validate exactly what she was feeling. I later had a similar discussion with a dad who said he had been MIA online because “this parenting thing is so much harder than I thought it was going to be.”
What would happen if we all sat around alone, being overwhelmed and never talking about how hard parenting is? We would just continue to spiral, thinking we are awful and guilting ourselves into never-never land
However, I’m here today to tell you that you’re not alone and that you don’t have to be perfect. I’m releasing you from that right now. As a matter of fact, I’m giving you permission to talk about it. It is possible to feel disdain for parenting, your kids, your spouse, your dog, your [everything] on occasion without it making you a bad person. In fact, it makes you quite normal (even if your friends won’t talk about it).
So the next time you feel guilty for saying how much parenthood sucks, remember this: those parents who seem like they have it all together and will only talk to you about the positive aspects of parenting are secretly crying in the bathroom, too.