As I sit here, typing away at the keyboard, I have a knot in my stomach, a lump in my throat, and all of that has been topped off with a good ol’ feeling of nausea. My husband and I been having problems in school with our 8-year-old son, as his behavior has been deteriorating in the classroom, and I’ve been sitting at home, in between diaper changes and feedings with our younger daughter, nervous about receiving yet another phone call or text from school. Motherhood is so hard, and not the kind of "hard" that anyone can prepare you for, or that you even understand how to prepare for before you're in the thick of it. It's a relentless, unyielding, unforgiving kind of hard. The kind of hard that comes with the greatest reward — but hard, nonetheless.
It’s hard hearing that your child is doing something wrong over and over again and it’s even harder to try to pinpoint where it’s coming from, correct the issue, and do it all without going to sleep every night wracked with guilt. I never thought I'd be the parent of the kid who's constantly scolded by the teacher and disruptive in class, but still smart and high-achieving. Every single day is a bigger challenge than the day before, filled with even bigger parenting decisions — something I was convinced was impossible.
And here's the kicker: The hard parts of parenting? Well, they only get harder.
No one hands us a manual at the hospital when our new baby is born, outlining the perfect guide for getting through the hard stuff.
My husband and I don’t always see eye to eye on the way things are done at our son's school. We don't love that the kids only get to have gym class once per week and we hate that they have to be stationary during recess instead of playing outside. We despise how he's rushed through lunch to get back to the classroom and instead of more hands-on learning, this year everything is all about prepping for the third-grade testing. But unfortunately, because we don't have an alternative (the public school we're sectioned for has a pretty bad reputation so our son gets bussed to a local charter school every day), we have to tough it out and stand as strong as we can for him. But that doesn’t erase the pit in my stomach every time the phone rings or buzzes and it's his school.
While there are good days and there are bad days in parenting, I’m honestly so glad that no one told me how hard this whole motherhood thing would be.
I mean, people say it to you, but pretty much all you get is, “being a parent is tough,” and it ends there. Whenever someone tells a ridiculous parenting story about dealing with an ornery child who sneaks out of their bedroom window or puts a whoopee cushion on their teacher’s seat, it’s funny because well, it's not your kid. But what they don’t tell you is how these hard parenting moments make moms and dads feel on the inside. No one hands us a manual at the hospital when our new baby is born, outlining the perfect guide for getting through the hard stuff. We aren’t advised on the worry, the guilt, and the questions that constantly circle through our brains as we finalize every single parenting decision, always wondering what if.
Being a parent is asking yourself these same questions again and again and again, every single day: Did I make the right choice? Am I doing the right thing? Does my kid appreciate or understand what we’ve given up for them? How will this impact their future? And of course, is my kid going to grow up to be a good person or a complete assh*le? Maybe this moment right here is what they created wine for.
It's so easy to assume that it's the parents' fault, that we’re obviously doing all the wrong things at home to make our child think being disrespectful behavior is the norm. I mean, where's the manual for getting through that?
When you’re in the thick of parenting, some days can feel like a complete blur. These little humans make your heart so full that you cry happy tears, but they turn on you just as fast and do something that makes you so angry you see red. And if something goes wrong with your child along the way, like disrespecting a teacher (like we’re going through now), acting out in class, or your child being the ring leader of playing on the bus when it's moving, the fingers get pointed at you, the parent. It's so easy to assume that it's the parents' fault, that we’re obviously doing all the wrong things at home to make our child think being disrespectful behavior is the norm. I mean, where's the manual for getting through that?
It's overwhelming, but it got me thinking. Maybe people don't really go into the details of how hard motherhood actually is because it might scare people out of having kids. I mean, we see all the funny memes pop up in our Facebook feed, but they never really go deep into what it's like day in and day out. Each stage in the game is different and requires different things from us, and I think if we were fully aware of the everyday challenges, difficulties, exhaustion, and stress, well, an awful lot of us might've just said "forget it," and not had kids at all.
The early days of motherhood were challenging for different reasons, but I know I couldn’t go through the elementary-school era without my husband by my side. As of late, the importance of our partnership has been put into perspective in a very real way for me. I can get overwhelmed easily, I don't always have the right words to say at the right time, and I feel so at ease knowing my husband is by my side filling in the gaps, willing to do the work.
Motherhood is a job. It’s a hard job and as parents we’re always working to our best to mold our children to grow into good, decent, kind human beings, but the path from infant to adult is filled with tons of tumultuous and trying moments. So hard in fact, that if the government needed to pay parents they probably couldn't afford us. Overtime alone would take our national debt to a whole new level.