I love my daughter more than I understood was possible, and I enjoy being a mom – most of the time. But, if I'm being honest, there are times the frustration of life with a soon-to-be three-year-old feels as though I might burst at the seams.
Before you start keyboard warrior-ing me, I am forever grateful to be mom to a curious, healthy child. I adore watching her personality blossom and get caught up in the magic when she discovers something new. We have a ton of fun together and her growing understanding of the world is very entertaining to this rather cynical journalist. However, let's be real, life as a parent isn't actually the illusion we see on social media – sometimes parenthood really sucks.
Just typing those words feels like I'm admitting a dark secret that will put a target on my back. That said, I no longer have the luxury of caring what other people think of me – I just don't have the time or energy to worry about that. That lack of time and energy seems to be equal parts the reality of having a child and the growing societal expectations for parents.
Moms – and dads, to a lesser extent – are expected to do it all. We are supposed to keep our children engaged, ensuring they are not exposed to the dreaded screen time, but we can't force them to do things out of fear we will stifle their autonomy and self-expression. Yet at the same time, our children are supposed to be well-mannered and adhere to societal norms – something that requires being forced to do what is expected, not necessarily what you want.
Our children are to be groomed to excel in their studies, but it's also expected we enrol them in a variety of extra-curriculars to ensure they develop a healthy sense of creativity and become well-rounded adults. Oh, but it must be the perfect amount of soccer or music classes – too much and we are running our kids ragged, too little and we aren’t exposing them to enough activity. I might add, most dads I know are not the ones setting their alarms to get up in the wee hours to secure their child a spot in swimming classes before they fill up.
Then, there is the requirement – which, again, falls to moms in my experience – of cultivating and maintaining friendships for your child. I can't remember the last weekend I had that did not involve a play date I’ve arranged.
All this is on top of negotiating the roller-coaster ride of tantrums, sleep disruptions, back talk, the million freaking hours it takes to get out the door and the Olympic-challenge of planning meals, getting groceries and not allowing your child to grab every sugary treat they see in the store.
My point in this rant is this – parenthood is wonderful, but it’s also very hard and we need to give ourselves a break. It’s OK to admit life is not all roses.