“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard…
is what makes it great.” – A League of Their Own
A mommy-group friend of mine recently shared a link to a blog post posing the question, “Why is being a miserable mom so trendy?” Reading this post made me wonder: Shit, am I miserable? Are we really all miserable?
Are we that friend that no one wants to hang out with anymore because we can’t stop the verbal diarrhea about how awful our life is? Are we that coworker that constantly complains about how much work they have to do, when in reality if they would just shut the fuck up and get to work they wouldn’t have so much damn work to do? When you become a mom, does misery automatically become the new black?
So over the last few days, I tried to pay a little more attention to the headlines I saw in my Newsfeed and the post titles on the blogs I follow religiously. I saw words like: bullshit, failure, dread and Xanax.
Oh em gee, we are all miserable.
We’re all walking around in a sleep-deprived haze, dragging our toddlers around on
leashes child harnesses kicking and screaming, leaking breast milk everywhere. We’re being told to “enjoy every minute”, asked “what our excuse” is, and questioned if we are “mom enough.” We’re stressed about what will happen if we send our kids to daycare to be “raised by someone else”, what would happen to our career if we choose to raise them ourselves, and if the real reason our promotion didn’t come through was because we announced we were pregnant again. We’re exhausted. Mentally. Emotionally. Physically. Exhausted.
And we’re fucking miserable.
So we write about the bullshit, and all of our failures, and how we dread the holidays, and how we can’t live without Xanax. Because if we didn’t, if we didn’t share the misery, we would all turn into Susan Smith and go bat shit crazy. We share the misery because it makes us realize we’re not alone. We’re not the only ones walking up hill both ways in the winter with no shoes on. We’re not nuts. We’re not failing. We’re parents. Misery is normal.
In fact, it’s the misery that makes it amazing. I’ve never wanted to be miserable so much in my whole life. Does that sound weird? Maybe that sounds really weird. Or, maybe that’s a feeling that only other parents can understand. Kind of like the pure joy you can get from finding a stray Cheerio in the pocket of your blazer just before a client presentation.
These are the best years of my life.
That’s what I thought the other night at 2 am, as I danced around the room with my little girl who had just projectile vomited all over me for the third time. The motion was the only thing that would calm her. I had just cried my eyes out because I was exhausted, I was all alone, my nipples were raw, our house looked like tornado wreckage, and there was a cheese dip still left in our basement from Charlie’s birthday party that I resigned would just have to sit there for the next 3 days. I was miserable. And all I could think in that moment was that it was one of the best of my life.
No one signs up to be a parent thinking it’s going to be easy. We know it’s going to be hard. Maybe we just don’t expect it to be this hard. So we look to each other as lifelines. We have to ask, is it normal to feel this way? And when we find that everyone else is struggling too, we start to feel like maybe we aren’t struggling so much anymore. And in the end, it becomes okay…because the hard is what makes it great. We learn to love the misery, to find joy in it, to thrive in it.
Parenting isn’t all puppies and rainbows and unicorns and sunshine. If that’s all we shared all the time, it would be a big, fat lie. Parenting is misery, spattered with pride, fulfillment, love, joy and amazement. Maybe that seems like I see my glass as half empty. But I don’t think so. I think that means my glass is so full that it’s spilling over. I would rather spend the rest of my life in moments of misery with these two children than feeling an endless amount of joy all alone.
If labor didn’t hurt, would it be so euphoric the first time we laid eyes on our new baby? If we didn’t have to suffer through three weeks of sleepless nights, would that first 7-hour stretch feel so awesome? If we didn’t struggle so much to breastfeed, would that milk-drunk smile be so fulfilling? If we didn’t have to endure our toddler throwing fistfuls of dinner on the carpet, would it seem so monumental the first time he actually uses a fork?
Parenting is hard. Parenting is miserable. And maybe that makes me miserable too. But that doesn’t change the fact that these are the best years of my life. And I wouldn’t give them up for anything.