I’m going serious today, y’all.
Last week, I wrote a post called Three Truths and a Lie About Having Twins. It also went up on Mamapedia on Tuesday. Most people really connected with it, but I did get some negative feedback. This negative feedback all said, more or less, that the commenters felt bad for my children because I obviously do not like them.
Now, this isn’t a new song and dance. Just about anytime someone complains about their children on a blog or on other social media, someone is going to helpfully speak up to say what awful parents they are. It seems that the default slight made at parents who are honest about how much parenthood sucks sometimes is that we must not like our children.
Shockingly (since I write so much about my terrible parenting,) this is the first time it has happened to me. So I would like to respond.
First of all, bite me.
Second of all, this idea that if we love our children then we must love parenting without qualification is outdated and false. Just look in the parenting section of any bookstore and you are sure to find a dozen books about how hard it is to be a mother. You can’t shake a stick without hitting a parenting blog that tells it like it is. Everything about parenthood is messy; conceiving a child is messy, giving birth is messy, and raising a child is messy. That cat is out of the bag.
But despite all that has been written to show that the idea of the perfect parent is a lie, and to show every parent out there that they are not alone in their moments of frustration and unhappiness, we are still burdened by this idea that if we say anything negative about parenthood, then that means that we don’t love our children. It’s an easy diss by the judgmental and unsympathetic. It is meant to cut us down, and put a crack in the already fragile shell of confidence we have in ourselves as parents.
In my opinion, however, love is more honest when you’ve gone through both the peaks and the valleys than if you’ve driven the smooth road around them. It’s when love is tested that it shows its strength. And how much stronger can love be than to be driven to your absolute breaking point by your child, and yet still be willing to give your life for them at any second?
Yes, there are times when I wish my children were almost anywhere else so that I could have some time to myself. There are times where I don’t want to play with them, and tell them so. There are times when I yell and scream. There are times when none of us like each other very much.
But I LOVE my children more than anything on this earth. And they know that. No matter what, THEY KNOW THAT. I love them so much it hurts, and I tell them that so often that sometimes they don’t even hear it. “I love you” becomes chatter behind the story they want to tell me about their video game, or a momentary interruption before they can ask me that question about how far outer space is. It is not a statement that requires a response or even any attention, and that is how it should be. For my kids, “I love you” is the background noise of their childhood.
Parents shouldn’t have to defend their love for their children to anyone. We shouldn’t feel the need to say, “Don’t get me wrong, I mean, I love my kids…” Of course you do! Can we please give each other the benefit of the doubt? Can we assume that love is a given? Sure, there are horrible and abusive parents out there. There are parents who do hate their children. But they aren’t writing a whole lot of parenting blogs, and they don’t tend to talk openly about the hatred they have for their children. If you can’t tell the difference between a frustrated, exhausted parent and one who truly hates their child, then you need to talk to more parents. The more parents you talk to, the more you will see how very normal it is to say things like, “I would rather give birth to and raise an incontinent porcupine than another child,” and still love your children.
So can we please, PLEASE find a new put down? How about calling me a fatty? Or telling me that I dress funny? Both of those things are true. But when it comes to my feelings for my children, get off your goddamn high horse. If you enjoy judging, go to the state fair and pick the best pig in show. Just give me — and all the other moms and dads out there who busy loving our children through the hard work that is parenting — a break.