We all might watch our favourite family-oriented show and see how the parents all seem to have at least that one friend (in some cases an entire group of friends) at their disposal and on Saturday nights they are able to go to a movie, or meet each other at the bar for drinks with just a single call to the magical babysitter who is always available at the drop of a hat. We all have seen it and think yea, I can do that! This parenting thing doesn’t look so hard! I can still have a social life, as well as parent to my fullest ability! Bring on the margaritas and weekend girl’s trips!!!
…Said no one in my parenting circle, ever…
No one tells you what it would be like when you have older parents, or unavailable siblings, or no access (or funds) for a babysitter who won’t steal your shit or hurt your child… No one warns you that you may blink and it would have been 3 years since you last saw the inside of a cinema, or went somewhere nice with the significant other…alone. Nope, no one warns you because there is this sick need to keep the ‘not so cute’ parenting aspects a secret. Parents of older children wait for you to discover shit and then when you run to them, they are waiting with open arms, a smile on their faces and a bottle of alcohol. “Yes, my child, welcome to the fold. You are now one of us”.
The parenting rite of passage it seems. They all wait for you to let loose about how your previously angelic child is now behaving today, as a friend so affectionately calls them, ‘like a little shit’. Yes, I said it. We love our babies more than life itself but they can truly be little shits sometimes. But such is the life we signed on for, right?
It just means that that friend we used to see every other day, we now probably only see via video chat once a week or less. Probably with a backing choir of screams and cries, if she also has children of her own. Let’s not speak of trying to set up a date to spend time together! This has to be carefully coordinated between PTA meetings, doctor’s appointments, impromptu fevers and the ever popular ‘this is the first time in a week I may have an hour to myself and I just wanna take a freaking nap/bath/drink’ feeling.
I am sorry if I am making it seem so negative, but frankly, I am just being realistic about the ‘other side’. I just want people to start being more open to both sides of parenting, rather than just the awesome parts.
Yes, it is awesome, but it can be really draining and overwhelmingly thankless. Those are the days you long for adult company and contact. I strive hard to keep contact with adults (parents who would understand when I have to cancel the date we made two months in advance). Child-less friends have almost completely fallen to the wayside (being busy themselves) and I sit and wonder what life would be like if I were still childless…but I shake myself back into reality and deal with the here and now. My son is all sorts of awesome and I do enjoy raising him and seeing him develop, but it is hard when, as both a stay at home and work from home mother I haven’t seen the outside of my house in weeks, I have to once again cancel a date. Sucks monkey nuts really. But I keep trying to make connections (and keep them).
I say all of this to say that we, as parents must understand that while it is praiseworthy to sacrifice it all for the children, we need to remember ourselves in the equation. Giving up self-care and adult connection is a recipe for disaster. If we are not fully at our best, then how can we give our best to our children? We cannot trust me. I tried and I crashed and burned in a not so fun way in 2015…. I realised taking care of me was just as important as taking care of L. It does get better the older they get, so don’t be afraid to tell your toddler to give you those few moments to think, if those few moments alone in the bathroom are what you need to get your mind straight, then by God take them!