La La How The Life Goes On

Play Dater Hater

Posted on: March 30, 2011

This article: http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/parenting/parents-who-hate-parenting-the-latest-trend-2466533 asks whether Parents Who Hate Parenting is a new trend.  My dear friend Kay-tay posted it for discussion and it really got me thinking about happiness, contentment, joy, irritation, quality of life and every parenting-induced emotion in between.  After noodling on the article for a little while I have come to a few conclusions about its major thesis, which is as follows:

“Parents of young children report far more depression, emotional distress, and other negative emotions than non-parents, and parents of grown children have no better well-being than adults who never had children…” which is evidenced by liking one child more than another, not wanting to be home full-time, and often rationalizing your choice to have kids in order to make yourself feel better.

Conclusions #1-752: No shit, Sherlock!

But specifically:

A.  Hello, my name is Mama. I am a human person with thoughts, feelings, dreams, goals and and entire inner life beholden to no one.  As a human person, I sometimes find other humans to be unlikeable, even and especially the small ones. As a human person with more than one set of interests, I often look at my job (that of being a full-ish time mother) and think, “I gotta get outta here before I go insane.”  And, as a human person with a brain and emotions, I am completely comfortable with my habit of rationalizing the joys of parenthood in order to make myself feel better on days when my only purpose on the earth, it seems, is to talk so no one will listen and to serve food no one will eat.

This article is a big diaper full of apple juice-fueled poo, and here’s why.  There’s a difference between “hating” parenting and being a normal human person with a brain, a life and beating heart.  I hardly think that sometimes liking one kid more than another qualifies me as the Goebbels of Motherhood, do you?

So let’s just say it here so we can say it out loud among friends elsewhere:  sometimes our kids are assholes.  There. It’s been said.  Sometimes your little darling snowflake acts like a giant asshole.  And guess what?  I don’t expect you to enjoy it, even if all those study authors do.  I don’t know about you, but you wouldn’t hang out for too long with someone who constantly said “no” to everything you offered, would you?  “Jim, want to get lunch?” NO.  “How about we all go for beers?!”  NO.  “Sandy, what say you and I finish up this project together so we can get out of here early on a Friday?”  “NO! I won’t! You can’t make me!  You’re not my boss! I’m not even talking to you anymore!! [door slams]”  Please tell me you wouldn’t prefer the company of someone else almost 100% of the time.  Likewise, some days I would prefer the company of more cooperative individuals than my children.  Doesn’t mean I hate being Mama.

B.  To their second point, I also hardly think that not wanting to be home full-time means I’m a flight risk.  Some days the only thing that gets me to 6:30pm when the BabyDaddy arrives is reminding myself that women have done this for centuries with fewer resources, so I’ll be fine as long as no one is bleeding.  But why would me not wanting to do this for the rest of my life, 24 hours a day, mean that I am imminently out the door or “hating” parenthood?  Again, I am simply being human, and being human, I am confessing to you today that some days cleaning poopy butts and saying ‘Wow” to yet another drawing of a crazy stick person are not necessarily the fuel for the quick mind and active intellect I’m hoping to maintain.  Doesn’t mean I hate being Mama.

C.  And, finally, to their larger point, that of non-kid people being happier than parents.  Well, I could have saved some university sociology-based human relations department the cost of that little endeavor by simply saying, “DUH, MORONS!”  I’m not sure about you, but I absolutely was Quote-Unquote “happier” before we had kids.  We went to restaurants! I had a mad shoe collection!  We took trips! We worked out together at an expensive gym!  We never really thought, “Gee, we won’t be able to afford that…shirt.”  Our pre-kid life was all about our happiness, and please believe me when I tell you that it WAS!  Life was good. Life was happy.  Now life is complicated. Life it tiring. Life is messy. Life is a series of endless and thankless tasks involved in the raising of decent, good-hearted, emotionally-functioning, intelligent humans.  The BabyDaddy and I recently reminisced about those pre-kid days when we’d GET tired, as opposed to BEING tired.  Back then, a long week at work, a vigorous hike, a good workout; these things made you get tired.  Nowadays, we get about 6 hours of sleep a night if we’re lucky, we’re mentally “on” all day, we’re physically “on” all day–and, much as I hate to admit it–we just live tired.  I don’t remember the last time I GOT tired; I just simply am.  And there will be no letup for another few years.  Doesn’t mean I hate being Mama.

So what’s the point of all of these articles?  Well, I think they are designed to make normal human parents feel like shit for feeling normal human emotions about our children, who have somehow become these untouchable creatures we can’t be honest about.  Don’t say you don’t like them, you mean mommy!  Well, I’m not going to say it to their faces, idiot!  But, if you’d shut up so the grownups can talk, you’d see that it’s normal. What’s not normal is pretending you don’t feel something you do, swallowing it, and drinking three glasses of wine before dinner.  Or obsessing over your kid’s reading prowess. Or competing for best school admission.  Just drop the facade and be a human already, admitting that while parenting sucks a large percentage of the time, when it’s good it’s beyond good; when it’s fulfilling it’s cosmically fulfilling.  When it’s joyful, it’s heart-achingly, burstingly joyful. When it’s rewarding, it’s truly, deeply, soundly rewarding…and not because it was easy, but specifically because it was hard.

These studies are designed, I think, to put a wedge between parents and non-parents.  I know several couples who do not–and do not plan to-have kids.  They are treated rather less sensitively than my punkass kids for their temerity in denying the world their offspring.  Please listen when I say this: you know you know people about whom you think, “They should NOT have had kids; that situation is one giant hot mess.”  So why do we judge other parents but on the next hand denigrate people who assess themselves, their lives, their dreams, their goals, their very inner selves, and say, “that’s not for us”?   The only solace in parenting, sometimes, is the knowledge that you are sleeping in the bed you made.  If you don’t see that bed for yourself, then rock on and no judgment (but a little jealousy) from me.  Because you WILL be happier on a daily basis than I am. You WILL encounter less depression and emotional distress. And you WILL be called to babysit my children when I finally get the chance to go out.  🙂

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