Thank God twins don’t run in my family! (IImage taken off Google)
Last week news.com.au ran an article about parenting titled “The Unspoken Truth” in which the author, Ginger Gorman, spoke candidly about how there are times when she doesn’t actually enjoy parenthood. I thought it was a general fact of life that having kids is tough so I was surprised to read on and discover a lot of people actually left quite nasty comments. Some said she had a “miserable outlook” and should “suck it up”. Others said she should never have had kids or worse, should give her kids up for adoption because they will resent her when they grow older and realise she did not enjoy them. Seriously? And you wonder why so many depressed mothers are afraid to admit they are struggling to cope and suffer in silence.
I personally thought the article was refreshing to read. The author clearly did love her kids, just not every minute of looking after them. Obviously there were also plenty of people who left supportive comments and said they have felt the same way too about parenthood but I was slightly disturbed by the amount of people who seem to expect that mothers should put on a happy front 24/7. In my case I definitely chose to have a child and brought one into this world. Am I then not allowed to ever speak about any remotely negative feelings towards parenthood? I do my best to raise and educate my daughter and give her a stable, happy home. But there are also plenty of times when I am tired, overwhelmed and feel guilty that I’m not doing enough. Surely I am not alone in this? Are you really telling me there are parents out there who have actually never had a negative thought about parenthood? Who have never longed for just a moment’s peace to do something like actually taste your food?
Criticise me all you want because I will be the first to put up my hand and say I’m not perfect. I wanted my daughter very much and had a good pregnancy but surprisingly even then I struggled to bond with her after a very long and tiring labour – that was certainly not something I had planned and took me by surprise. Unlike many mothers, I wasn’t posting photos to Facebook gushing over my newborn daughter and how it was the “best day of my life”. Non-stop breastfeeding and a lack of sleep took over my life and I cried all the time in those first few months. Does having these feelings make me a bad mother? I certainly do not think so. My daughter never lacked anything. She was always fed, changed, happy, and showered with plenty of love and affection, and after the initial orientation phase, we quickly bonded and learned to live our lives together. It was hard and I struggled but I always tried to do my best.
Even now that my daughter is older and a bit easier to handle, I confess there are still days where I just long to have a night off or a day off. To finish a meal without interruption. To meet up with friends and talk in peace. I definitely have wished I had one of those sleepy children who nap for 3 hours and take themselves to bed at night and sleep 12 hours. To me, admitting these things doesn’t make one a bad mother. Leaving your young kids to fend for themselves at home without a babysitter while you go bar hopping – that makes you a bad parent. Yelling at your kids that you never wanted them – that makes you a bad parent. As long as you accept your responsibilities and give your children a love-filled home, it’s okay to feel tired, overwhelmed, guilty and imperfect sometimes. We are all human. I will be surprised if there is actually a parent who feels they are doing a fantastic job all the time!
If you’re a new mother and are feeling like you cannot cope, do not hide it inside and let it fester. Please speak up and talk about it. Humans are social creatures. Often you will find that when you speak up, many will admit they feel the same way too. We all need support, especially in those early days where you feel like you’re going absolutely insane. There is absolutely no shame in admitting you cannot cope. If you don’t talk about, no one can give you the help or support you need.
As for my kids growing up and reading how I didn’t enjoy them every single minute of every single day, I’m sure they will understand when they are parents. When I became a parent, I certainly related to my own parents very differently. I actually asked them, “Did you celebrate when I left home?” I’m sure every time we had a sleepover at someone else’s house when we were kids, they must have been partying (they deny this, of course). And well, I am sure when my kids are teenagers they won’t enjoy ME every single minute of every single day right? You love your spouse but it doesn’t mean you do not disagree – that is just part of human relationships. You can love someone and not enjoy them all the time! Besides, I would hope I can raise my kids right to have a great relationship with me and not doubt my love for them even when they’re not being very lovable!