In light of the recent articles and discussions I’ve been having about motherhood, I worry that the point has been missed. There can be a lot of negativity floating through the parenting atmosphere and I most certainly don’t want to come across as a ranting, begrudging, regretful mother because that could not be further from the truth.
The difficulties that often surround motherhood, fatherhood and parenthood as a whole, are finally being talked about, accepted and shared. We can eff and blind our way silently through the testing baby period or the torturous toddler days or we can share our war stories and have empathy with friends who are struggling through a week of teething fevers and zero sleep. This in no way enforces the opinion that being a parent is too hard, or too stressful or God forbid a mistake.
There is no denial that being a parent will test you in pretty much every aspect of your life but those tests are not inherently negative. They are not wrong, dangerous or catastrophic to our lives as people. I would not change the last six years of my life for anything. Pregnancy was tough but gave us our two girls. The baby days were tough but look at their personalities. The toddler years are trying but look at the memories we have.
There is always a flip side to the hard days. And it’s the the flip side that we ironically talk about the most. It’s the sunny days at the beach and the autumn walks kicking dried leaves. It’s the jumping in muddy puddles and the days of learning to ride a bike. It’s Christmas mornings and first days of school. The pride we have for our kid as they dance imperfectly on a stage at summer camp or sing monotonely at their Montessori graduation. The amazement when they come home from junior infants knowing their first Irish words or when they tell you that Mother Teresa lived in Calcutta. The amazement when they say they want to learn how slime is made and then make it. Or when they first learn to draw a dress on a stick man.
There are a million moments in a week but as with most things, often the things that stick are the moments that test us.
Being a Mum or a Dad is beyond hard work. It’s exhausting, it’s terrifying, it’s lonely and oftentimes heartbreaking. It’s the only test in your life you probably won’t ace and you certainly can’t cheat on, but you will always earn from it.
Being a parent is exciting. It’s fun, it’s daring, it’s an adventure with your favourite people. It’s a learning curve, it’s empowerment, it’s the greatest opportunity you will ever have.
And if you are lucky enough to be privileged with children in this life, you will be challenged but that challenge is there for a reason. Nothing in life is easy and raising children may be the ultimate challenge and the greatest dare but aren’t you up for a challenge with a million bonus prizes scattered throughout the day? Yes, they may come in the form of sloppy kisses and sticky hugs and babbling jokes and endless questions with an unpredictability that will almost certainly always make you laugh.
They say not to tell your cousins new wife who has a five year plan to have two kids and a dog about the difficulties of parenting on the off chance that we will put her off childbearing forever. But that is where the problems lie. If we avoid opening up and being honest about the raw reality of parenthood we’re not being fair to ourselves or that cousins new wife. But if we only let rip about the hardships then we’re also not being fair to our kids, ourselves or our cousins new wife.
So, let’s strike a balance when it comes to talking about this maddening world of parenthood. Let’s be honest about it all.
I am a proud Momma Bear despite the oh so hard days, the achingly long nights and the frighteningly frustrating moments. And I am a proud Momma Bear for the ridiculously close connection I have with our girls, for the brilliantly hilarious conversations we have and the present and the future I know makes me happy.