*Attention* The following is a Public Service Announcement: Parenting is not fun.
Despite what well meaning granny types, perma-perfect playground moms, and diaper commercials would like you to think, parenting is a lot of things, but fun isn’t one.
Maybe if I…if we…blow the whistle on this gargantuan misunderstanding, we won’t have sixteen year old girls vying to be the next “16 and Pregnant” star, nor will we need to continue to humor the ridiculous “mommy wars.” None of us really has this puzzle figured out. Let’s just all agree…parenting is crazy hard.
Shall we start at the beginning? Pregnancy and childbirth. Miracle? Yes. Fun? Word-that-rhymes-with-duck + no! Even my friends who loved being pregnant (I’m not among that lot) have no love for the following: heartburn, nausea, hemorrhoids, episiotomies, peeing themselves, chaffed and torn nipples, pumping, mastitis, varicose veins, blown out lady parts, being sliced open from hip bone to hip bone…need I go on?
And the real kicker? That is the easy part.
Enter actual parenting. Being a parent has momentary fly-by instances of fun, woven into life like single threads of gold, but parenting—the actual work, and it is work, is most definitely not fun.
Right now I have an eleven year old daughter, an eight year old daughter, and a three year old son. They are amazing creatures…intelligent, hilarious, uniquely made, and undeniably beautiful little people. And yet, there is some kind of visceral reaction, which happens inside of me when my tween rolls her eyes in response to instruction. There is an otherworldly guttural response in my body that boarders on uncorked madness when my three-almost-four year old intentionally neglects to use the toilet and instead plays with his trucks happily…with a giant sh*t in his pants. And when my eight year old flails in fits of dramatic outrage at the many injustices of middle-child-dom, the bitterness I feel makes me wish I, like the Wicked Witch of the West, had flying monkeys who might swoop down and carry her away.
The day to day grind is intense. It is a veritable battle ground, and we are fighting the good fight, moms and dads…each and every day. I can’t remember a time since having children when I wasn’t exhausted. Not unhappy…just worn out from the responsibility of raising humans.
There are surely many readers wagging judgey fingers at my ungrateful and obviously terribly flawed parenting skills. Wag away. I know, deep down in that coiffed facade you display, you too would love a night “off”…or a magic wand the next time you’re dealt a child in agony—real or imagined.
Parenting is not for the weak. This isn’t a Hallmark movie. This is Rocky, Terminator, Shawshank Redemption, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Fight Club all wrapped up into one after-school special that never ends. Because even when they grow up, we’ll still be parenting…praying, worrying, loving. If you don’t believe me, ask any parent with adult children. God willing, it never stops.
Do you feel me?
Being a mother is an honor, a privilege, a joy. It is fascinating and beautiful, incredibly challenging and indescribably rewarding. I’m better for it, and at moments, I’m my worst because of it.
But if it’s fun you’re looking for, rent out an amusement park. The thrills will be far less terrifying, the ride predictably exhilarating, and you’ll save a train load of money. Don’t go into this gig disillusioned, thinking parenting is fun.
Parenting is agitating, amazing, amusing, annoying, astonishing, bewildering, confusing, courageous, crazy, dangerous, delightful, depressing, disgusting, exuberating, frustrating, gleeful, glorious, hilarious, imaginative, joyful, kaleidoscopic, loving, melancholy, mysterious, nutty, obnoxious, outrageous, painful, quotable, repulsive, restless, sacred, scary, silly, splendid, tense, terrifying, tiring, ugly, valiant, weary and wonderful. (I’ll leave you to finish x, y, and z.)
It is not fun…
It is so much more.