Are you terrifying your child-free friends with your unabashedly honest parenting complaints? According to Slate‘s Ruth Graham, you very well could be.
Graham laments the fact that through blog posts and her friends’ own social media updates, she’s constantly exposed to the “nightmarishly life-destroying aspects of parenting.”
She knows some of the stuff out there is exaggerated for the sake of humor, but adds that “for me, a childless woman, the cumulative effect of all of this ‘honesty’ is a growing sense of dread” because she’d like to have kids someday.
As someone who shamelessly traffics in both honest and exaggerated depictions of the trials of parenting — mainly for the sake of cracking up fellow parents — I have to concede Graham makes valid points, especially when she notes that many of us tend to offer “disclaimers” such as “I wouldn’t trade it for the world” and “I’m blessed to have my children” before launching into epic whine-fests. (I’d say my best addition to the canon of parental grouses is this graphic, rhyming ode to a holiday potty-training mishap. You’re welcome, world.)
I understand how, for child-free folks, you can only read so many of these disclaimers before they begin to sound hollow. On behalf of griping parents everywhere, allow me to explain this now-clichéd practice with three points:
1. There are plenty of people who want children and can’t have them. Those of us who do have kids, usually, are really grateful to have them, and not declaring that can make us seem like insensitive jerks.
2. Unless the Internet is eventually replaced by some telepathic super highway, there’s a good chance that our children will someday read at least some of what we write about them. They should know that as exhausted as we were by singing “The Wheels on the Bus” 38 times a day, we also would sing it 138 times if that’s what was required to ease the pain of a gassy tummy or an achy ear. Saying “I’m blessed” or “I wouldn’t trade it” is convenient shorthand for that — at least, in our sleep-deprived minds it is.
3. They’re true. If you’re taking the time to write about your children — whether they’re good things or bad — you probably really, really love your children. But again, especially for the sarcasm-prone among us, that can be hard to communicate in anything longer than what may appear to be a throw-away line.
What I really want Graham (as well as others perplexed by the universe of mom-and-dad diatribes) to know is that there are many down-to-earth yet still positive messages about parenting coming out every day. Check out pieces by writer Allison Slater Tate, Bloom author Kelle Hampton and Momastery maven Glennon Doyle Melton, to name a few. You will find even more — just keep digging.
And, while you’re digging, if you happen upon a disgusting (however brilliant) poop poem… well, don’t judge me too harshly. I wouldn’t trade their messy bottoms for the world.
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Photo Credit: Alice Gomstyn