I like reading Aliki’s posts. We have much different experiences, which leads to our having much different perspectives on the “life and times” of parenting. Different perspectives are good things. While I agree with everything she has to say about the amazing benefits of parenting, I still don’t understand why we have to get so defensive about the study in question. (Which, by the way, appears to be rehashing old data – so, it’s not all that valuable, anyway.)
The fact is that parenting brings massive challenges. It causes great anxieties, worries, self-doubts and insecurities that we may or may not have had before the kid. (Sure, we probably had all of these feelings at some level – they are just heightened with parenting.) Let me just put it out there: Parenting can suck.
Does that mean that it always sucks? Certainly not. Does that mean that we’re bad parents if we complain about it from time to time? Nope. Does that mean we wouldn’t want it any other way? No. It just means that the parents who participated in the study probably answered the questions as honestly as possible. And it means that they felt parenting made them feel depressed.
I love my kid. As Aliki points out for herself (and we all agree), we couldn’t imagine our lives any other way. But, I’m not too ashamed or scared to admit that there are times that the challenge of raising him feels overwhelming. I can cop to an occasional thought of life “as I knew it.” Do I miss long Sundays in bed with bad movies and no thoughts of responsibility? I sure do. Are there times when I fantasize about how great it would be to just “go somewhere” without giving an ounce of thought to the now sometimes seemingly insurmountable logistics of making that happen? Hell, yes.
But, does that make me a bad parent? Does that make me love my kid any less? No. It makes me real. In my own circle of friends, this is the popular opinion: Having kids is the greatest thing in the world and the most confounding. So, yeah…at times…there are even feelings of depression.
I think the days of touchy-feely “everything about parenting is great” are over. Our lives are too complicated for that to be the case. I struggle every single day with any number of challenges to make sure that K-Man is present and accounted for. I struggle to make sure that bills are paid and that the roof overhead doesn’t leak. I struggle with the responsibility of getting K up for school and picking him up each day. I struggle with the “Groundhog Day”-like treadmill that we’re on.
Granted, not every day is exactly the same and that’s what makes things great. That extra smile. The extra laugh. K looked at me yesterday and said, “Daddy, I happy. You happy, too.” I loved that. I needed that. Whatever look I had in my eyes that made him say that was instantly gone. And, I was happy. Truly. Happy that he was in my life. Happy that I’m a card-carrying member of Club Parent (and specifically, Club Dad). I was as thrilled as he was that he discovered some new “trick” that he could do: “Did you see this?!?!” Was I depressed then? Not at all.
Aliki is dead-on. I do have newfound courage, stamina and strength, love and patience. But, I also have a newfound undeniable pressure that I had never felt before becoming a dad. And, at times, the bad of those pressures trumps the good of everything else. It can certainly be depressing. Definitely stressful. I can admit that.
So, I do get it. And, I don’t think that there’s any reason to battle against the findings. (Besides, one thing we should ALL know as parents is that there is “a study” to prove every point of view. Somewhere out there is a study that probably “proves” that teaching kids to drive at age three is helpful with their hand-eye coordination, and such kids have a better chance to grow up with lower car insurance premiums.)
We love being parents and we wouldn’t want it any other way. (But, it’s okay to admit that it can suck.)