Have you seen this article going around the interwebs? It was posted on Slate last week and has gotten people talking about parenting bloggers and why they write the things they do. To sum it up, the author seems to beg the question “is parenting really that hard?” like, as hard as we are all trying to convince everyone it is?
My guess is she thinks it’s not. I mean, how could it be? So then like, why do we write such vile things about our kids all the time? Is it soooo terrible and depressing and awful and exhausting or, to cut to the chase, do we really all just like to complain?
That seems to be the not-so-gentle suggestion.
Well, yeah. Maybe. Kind of. I know that when I write an article or a blog about a rough patch that resonates with even one person, I feel like I turned a negative into a positive. But I’ll get to that in a minute.
My gut reaction to the piece was the obvious and what a lot of the commenters suggested- “of course, you don’t get it. You aren’t a parent.” But then I stopped being so sensitive. Everyone is not into Mommy/Daddy Bloggers and I get that. I really do. If I had to listen to someone talk, rant, complain excessively about anything (aside from like a death or a terrible illness) that I hadn’t personally experienced, well, I don’t think I would. I think I would stop listening and run far, far away and never turn back.
But the reason I personally have written about my experiences as a parent for the last four years is because something inside me just has to. And I imagine a lot of Mommy and Daddy bloggers feel the same. I’ll be the first one to admit that I don’t typically shy away from the tough or mildly depressing subjects. And I’m sure that makes some people uncomfortable or even irritated. But for me, writing about the worst times has been therapeutic. It’s helped me to better grasp and understand my parenting journey. It’s like a very public form of group therapy.
The pieces I’ve written that have received the most positive feedback are typically about some of the most awkward or painful things about motherhood. And to feel that acceptance and understanding from a world of other parents and writers is, well, pretty amazing. It makes me feel understood at the times when I feel I’m fucking it all up. Maybe I shouldn’t be so insecure. Maybe I should suck it up and stop talking. Maybe we all should. No, of course I don’t mean that.
Not all of us come into the parenting game with 15 friends with babies living next door and a community of willing neighbors running over with pots of soup and an understanding ear. I didn’t. My first few years were lonely and isolating and without the mommy blogs I read, I would’ve been lost. I really mean that.
For me, blogging has been a source of income, creativity and yes, sometimes, pure venting. But writing about my parenting experience has become a part of my parenting experience. My daughter made me a writer because once I had her, I was able to write from the heart and write what I felt so deeply I could never have spoken it but somehow found words for. There is nothing that teaches you how to feel quite like parenting. Nothing.
The author insists that it doesn’t seem like there is much joy in our blogs and therefore in our parenting journeys. But I totally disagree. I think the author just isn’t seeing the joy because the truth is, sometimes it’s really hard to see. To me, joy looks different now than it did before I was a mother. Joy used to be found in freedom, relaxation, a lack of responsibility. Now, I’m lucky if I ever come across those feelings in a day. Now joy looks more like self-discovery and self-worth and finding a reason to smile even when it feels like the longest day of your life. And then doing it again the next day. Pure, uninterrupted joy is more fleeting, perhaps, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there.
I don’t think parenting is terrible. But I think it’s really, really hard. Much harder than I expected and it doesn’t seem to get any easier with time. It just slinks around and shifts it’s shape like the chesire cat and you have to constantly catch up and figure it out all over again.
There are shit times. There are shit times. There are shit times. Any parent knows this to be true. And the reason that I think it’s so hard? It’s because we care so much more about our children than we ever did ourselves and that is not something I could even attempt to explain to anyone.
But there is joy, lots of it. Sometimes you just have to look a little closer and it usually takes the eye of a parent to really see.
1 thought on “For parents, joy looks different”
Thank you. Posts like this are a lifeline to me. (And posts like the one you linked make me snort my coffee/wine.) I think there are two reasons we all whine so much about parenting (and cling to those who do too): insecurity and feeling unappreciated. First, we wonder if it is supposed to be this hard? Maybe I am doing this all wrong because it cannot really be this fucking hard, can it? Oh, it can. And yes, it is. I know, because your stories are the same as mine. Then we also want to know if we are appreciated. Does anyone see how hard this is? Does anyone care how hard we are striving? Do you see me? I see you. You get it. And I APPRECIATE YOU.