When you are expecting a baby, you hear that parenting is one of the hardest things that you will ever do. No one ever tells you exactly what that means. There are many joys of raising children, but there are also many moments that challenge you beyond what you ever could have expected. It can be so difficult to acknowledge and talk about the difficult parenting moments. We often feel we are not good enough parents, we feel guilt around some of the more complex feelings involved in parenting, and we may feel judged for not always having the patience to calmly find the best way to understand our children.
There are moments when my child is throwing a huge tantrum, and I can feel the stares at the back of my head. At these moments, I feel embarrassed and wish I could fade into the background and disappear. There are moments that my child is whining or yelling, and I don’t want to hear another word.
It is natural to experience parenting in different ways. No one person will experience his or her child in the same way. There is an interaction between the child’s temperament and the parent’s personality; your child has a unique relationship with you and the unique ability to find and push YOUR buttons; and each parent has his or her way of dealing with stress, anxiety around parenting, and ability to understand his or her child.
There can be real or self-imposed pressure to do all of the right things when it comes to parenting. It is important to remember that feelings are complex- you can both love your child more than anyone in the world and wish you had an “off” button for your child and that he or she would stop pestering you. It is equally important to acknowledge and accept your feelings and know that you don’t have to do everything perfectly. You don’t have to think being a parent is always wonderful. Being a parent isn’t always wonderful- it can be amazing and beautiful AND draining and overwhelming. The next time someone says, “Isn’t parenting the best experience ever?!” You can say with confidence, “Yes, it is wonderful and sometimes it’s harder than I ever could have imagined!”