I don’t think anyone gets how hard parenting is until they're in the thick of it. And, of course, just when you start getting a handle on some sort of routine, it all changes with the next stage of development. Parenting is for real, y’all. There are so many good moments, but with it comes a ton of moments that make you want to crawl under the covers and never come back out. And sometimes, it seems like you just can’t win.
Here are all of the reasons why parenting is hard AF:
Oh, the anxiety!
After having a nursing staff at your disposal the first few days, you’re suddenly thrust into raising this kid on your own. And there’s plenty to be terrified about. Are you feeding them enough? What if they smother themselves in their new sleep sack? Wait, did that person wash their hands first before they picked up your baby? The important thing to remember is knowing when your anxiety is out of control. Even the most level headed people can become nutjobs when it comes to their kids, so know that it’s entirely normal. And if it’s not, there are some awesome meds out there to deal with it. Kidding. Sort of.
How much screen time can you get away with before you’ve messed up any chances of them actually wanting to go outside and play on their own? Are you providing them enough nurturing and love so they don’t grow up into adults that discuss you with their therapist? Shouldn’t they be walking right now? Shouldn’t you be working on potty training? The truth is, being parents brings about plenty of uncertainty. “Is she still alive? Then you did a good job,” says my husband, whenever I’ve confessed to him that it was a Terrible Mother day. Be kind to yourself. While the internet is full of people who have it all together, I promise, no one really knows what they’re doing either. Speaking of which …
It seems like everyone is watching.
Parenting is a game where you never quite know exactly what the rules are. From the moment you get pregnant, everyone has an opinion about what foods you eat and exercises to avoid. They all want to tell you when to start solids and the right age to start preschool. The funny part of it all, is that no one is actually paying you any mind, because they are all focusing on not screwing their own kids up. (See above.)
Can we start talking more about this? Can we admit the hard stuff to other parents? Because, chances are, they're going through the same thing.
The hours are grueling.
Being a parent means you're on 24/7 with no such thing as holidays and weekends. In fact, your best work is usually done between midnight and 2 a.m. And taking a break means childcare arrangements. Unless your little boss throws up and then date night is over. Sorry, I’ve got no advice on this one.
Look on social media. If you spend too much time on there, you start feeling the Joneses creeping in. That girl you went to high school with is constantly posting gorgeous photos of her baby in a new outfit every day and you just lost it on your toddler for dumping the coffee grounds all over the floor. You sometimes wonder if you’re a bad parent for losing your temper all the time, but you never tell a soul. Instead, you paste on a smile at play group and laugh with the other parents about how hard kids can be. Can we start talking more about this? Can we admit the hard stuff to other parents? Because, chances are, they're going through the same thing.
You’re forced to face your past.
None of us had perfect parents growing up. All of us carry baggage from the past that leaks into our own parenting style. There are things you don’t want to repeat for your own kids, and there may be things your parents did that you wish you could do for your own. And if you are co-parenting, you each have your own ideas of how to raise a family. It takes a lot of work and a lot of compromise. Make sure you have an open communication with your partner and have those discussions often.
It’s lonely as hell.
You can be as sociable as possible, but there are still times you feel the isolation. You feel it when you’ve burst into tears after a day of toddler awfulness. You feel it as your sick baby struggles to breathe in the darkness of a Wednesday night and your partner is asleep. You feel it because you’re a military wife and your husband is deploying for the third time in a year. We can be surrounded by the best of friends and still feel the emptiness. We aren’t meant to raise kids alone. So, find your village. Ask for help. Speak up, so you don’t become consumed by parenthood.
You are their whole world.
And that’s overwhelming and exhausting. Being responsible for the physical, emotional, social and mental health of your kids is an incredible honor. And it’s hard. You are going to fail. You are going to lie awake some nights—maybe most nights—wondering what you could have done better. But you also have a hand in raising some pretty incredible children. Own it. And don’t forget to give yourself some grace every day.