No-one is disputing the undeniable fact that parenthood is tough. You don’t get to sleep, go to the toilet by yourself, or hold a conversation with another adult, and you usually have something wiped on you. This creates something of a paradox, since every parent I know swears that they wouldn’t change a thing, and it’s totally worth it. And yet they also complain.
I know from my experience of teacher training that worthwhile things can also be hard, make you cry and wring your hands and wish for the life before. And still you don’t stop it.
My problem is, I literally don’t know what I’m missing. I understand that the love you feel for your child overwhelms you; you didn’t know it was possible. You had no idea that you had that much love in you; to give away, selflessly. I understand it, but I don’t know it. I can only have faith that its true.
There have been times when I’ve felt like the worst, most selfish and unpleasant person that the earth ever spawned; I couldn’t type here the uncharitable thoughts I’ve had about parental complaints. The sweetest, most kind friends are made my tormentors with their bumps and their baby showers. I don’t like to be caught out. I need to know when a brave face might be required. It’s a bit like running in to an ex with a beautiful, successful and intelligent wife in tow, when you’re picking up your dog’s poo and in need of getting your highlights done. It makes you feel bad when you weren’t braced for it.
I actually find pregnant women more difficult to deal with than actual babies. This is probably because, in my mind, being pregnant I have had and lost, but the whole messy business never got near to a sniff of a T.H.B. (take home baby) of my own. I am actually starting to wonder if those sex education lessons got it all wrong after all; does pregnancy really lead to babies?
I’m not awful enough to really think that other women don’t have their own genuine fears, problems, aches and pains. But who knows what to say to the one with her bloodied nose pressed up against the nice clear social glass? With those I know well, its: ‘How are things with you?’, ‘Oh, you know. Nothing yet.’ Sometimes, in my head (and once out loud) I shout ‘You can’t out-complain me! Your baby is alive and mine is dead!’ And yet, however angry and bitter I feel, I try not to show it, because it’s not their fault that this is happening. And, there’s every chance that they’ve been though scary and sad times too, and maybe they don’t talk about it. The statistics tell us it’s quite likely.
And that’s why I like to keep work at work, and I carefully choose where and with whom I socialize. Got to keep up the act. Sometimes, I go where I know a pregnant friend will be, and I’m fine. Until, that is, we get to the invisible window and my mummy friends walk on ahead and leave me peering though wondering what it might be like on the other side.
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