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It's ok that it's hard
(It doesn't mean something is wrong with me!)
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Something that I’ve been struggling with is: I FIND PARENTING HARD.
Sometimes on a physical level, like having to lift Julius up to the water slide 100 times (“again, again, again, mommy, mommy, mommy!") at our cousins’ house last weekend, because he couldn’t quite make it up on his own. He’s not a small boy. I was tired and soaking wet and it was 100 degrees and humid. I had thought to pack bathing suits for the kids but not for me.
Sometimes on an emotional level, like when it’s bedtime and I’m fried but Simone has to poop (again?) and “mommy, my arm is sticky,” and “mommy, my tongue hurts,” and “mommy, why do you have eyebrows?” and and and…
Sometimes on a mental level, like I’m in an important work meeting but preschool calls because Simone’s eyes are very watery and can you please pick her up right away?
Sometimes on a physical/emotional/mental level, like crushing sleep deprivation.
Sometimes on a soul level when the world feels like it’s ending, and I’m just back in bed from administering a 3 AM cuddle but I can’t fall back asleep and my thoughts are dark cyclones of doom.
Summary = oftentimes, parenting is hard.
But what makes it about a million times harder is the constant judgement toward myself. The voice in my head says: It shouldn’t be this hard. It is not supposed to be. The reason it feels so hard is that you are a bad mom and a fuckup, and it is extra hard for you because you are deeply lacking and inherently wrong and broken.
This is where the magic of therapy comes in. I was sharing this with my therapist and she said something like: I have been a therapist for a long time. I am also a mom. And a person. I know a lot of people with little kids. And nobody has ever said to me - not one time!! - that parenting is not hard. It is hard!
Are you sure? I asked her.
Let me repeat, she said. Not one person in my career or my life has shared that parenting is easy.
So simple but life shattering, this realization.
Maybe it is not hard because I am doing something deeply wrong.
Maybe it is hard because it is hard.
Also, it can be amazing and joyful and deep and incredible.
And then hard again, because that’s what parenting is.
I don’t know why it’s wired so deep in me - this idea that it shouldn’t be so damn hard. Maybe because so many other things come relatively easy to me? Because my very levelheaded husband makes it look easy? Because it’s also so profoundly awesome?
But it feels so much easier to just remember that it’s hard for everyone.
That it’s ok that it’s hard.
That hardness is not a moral issue.
We can do hard things.
PS: Are they about to cry in this pic? Of course.
PPS: My first piece for The Guardian is a story I’m really excited about, about sustainability and cheese and communities. Read it!