Parenting is Hard
Before my daughter was born, I knew parenting would be hard in the same way that I knew childbirth would be painful – it was an idea, but I had no clue how it would actually feel. I am somewhat comforted by the fact that I am not the only person who finds parenting to be difficult. A quick search online revealed that our metro area library has almost 13 thousand titles on the topic of parenting. A brief look at Pinterest or lifehacker will mirror this. No matter the age or gender of your child(ren), I can confidently say that you have one of the toughest jobs on the planet.
What makes parenting so hard? It is probably due, at least in part, to unreasonable expectations of what parenting is going to be like. I remember purchasing an Anne Geddes calendar as a young girl and loving the beautiful images of sleeping babies surrounded by flowers, teddy bears, etc. This is not to say that a calendar showing what real babies look like (i.e. screaming, messy, etc.) could have prepared me for parenthood. As I look back, I am nearly certain that no one warned me about the real struggles of parenthood. We took the baby classes to learn about childbirth, breast feeding, and basic newborn care, but no one ever said, “You might really hate this sometimes.” There. I said it. You can love your child with every fiber of your being and still want to run out your front door and never return. You will probably feel a little guilty for fantasizing about said running, but nevertheless, the thought may cross your mind at some point. In addition to this, you might have unreasonable expectations about how you are going to feel, how your relationships will fare in the light of parenting responsibilities, and what it means to be a good parent. These are just to name a few. It is also important to point out that these expectations may come from others (i.e. partners, in-laws, etc.). The expectations around parenting are seemingly endless.
What does this mean for you? Unfortunately, I don’t think there is any way to make parenting easy. However, you might make it easier on yourself by taking a quick inventory of the parenting expectations impacting you and seeing if they are the source of any distress. Second, but most important, talk to someone. Whether that someone is a friend, your own parent, or a therapist, don’t try to do this alone. Tell the story of your parenting joys and struggles and let others share theirs. You will soon find out that you are most definitely not alone!
Written by Alexis Anttila, MA LAMFT