Would it really be so terrible for people to hear how awful kids can be sometime before they are already pregnant? If you have ever been married without kids for longer than two days, you have been asked, “So, when are you going to have kids?” And if you hesitate for even one millisecond before answering that you hope you are already with child, your inquisitor bursts forth with a litany of reasons you should have 87 children. They sell you stories of beautiful little bundles of rosey-cheeked joy, chubby hands full of hand-picked flowers, lullabies sung by the light of the moon as you rock your precious little babe in an antique rocking chair as they silently and effortlessly fall asleep.
As soon as your morning sickness kicks in those same Snake Oil Salesmen start in with, “Oh, you think it is hard now?” (insert maniacal laugh here), “Just wait till the baby is HERE! You won’t sleep for months! Forget getting back into shape. Every waking minute will be spent cleaning up vomit, poop, spilled breastmilk, and your constant flow of tears!”
Back the truck up. Where did all those nice stories go? I want those back. Weren’t you the same nosey lunatic casting fertility spells over me four months ago and praying I would change my mind from wanting to be child-free, to suddenly deciding a baker’s dozen would be marvelous?!? Why would any sane person do that to another person, when they knew about all the puking and pooping and crying?
Well, because of course the reality is somewhere in the middle. Parenting is terrifying but it can have its good moments, too. It’s just that sometimes they are hard to remember when you are being pooped on or screamed at, or your kid is having a meltdown that puts Mariah Carey to shame in the middle of the hotel pool while you are on vacation. But there really will be days when those chubby little fingers bring you flowers (that they yanked out of the neighbor’s yard, resulting in a stern talking-to from said neighbors), and there will be nights when maybe your baby won’t be screaming TOO loud while you are rocking them and you can pretend that it is a peaceful scene from some bedtime story featuring a fuzzy bunny and his momma. (Just make sure your husband takes a picture of it so you can gaze at it the next time you find yourself wondering if your roof is high enough off the ground to do serious damage should you jump from it).
Think about how much more supportive we would be if we all knew how awful we were at this parenting gig at the outset. No one would be worried about keeping up pretenses. Seriously, no one is perfect at it. And if everyone was really honest about how draining and frustrating it is, the world would be a better place. Instead of waiting until one of your mom friends is on the verge of a nervous breakdown or alcoholism to confide to her that you too had nights where you felt like a complete and utter failure and called someone to babysit as a last ditch effort to save your sanity, maybe there would be fewer moms driving their minivans into the Mississippi River.