Friday 5 August 2011
It's been a while since I did this on here, but I'm in need of a quick rant this morning so bear with me. I think I'm going to (a) scream (b) punch someone (c) both of the above (!) if another well-meaning relative, colleague or friend tells me what hard work being a parent is. I accept that by not yet being a mum I don't know what it's like to have a child and be with that child, responsible for it and caring for it 24/7 - I understand that. But it really galls me when they look at me with a knowing, sympathetic smile and shake their heads saying I'll find being a mum so demanding and such hard work.
Various reactions run through my mind, which I'll try to surmise here. Probably for the best for me to process them and pin them down, as I suspect that if I don't do this, one of these days some poor soul is going to say the wrong thing and get a torrent of Elly Beans abuse that isn't at all justified! So, here we go:
REALLY? I'd like to think by the ripe old age of 33 I've picked up a little life experience and haven't spent more than three decades with my head buried in the sand. While I haven't been a parent I'm not a complete naive imbecile, and I can well imagine how demanding it might be. While I know I won't and can't fully appreciate the complexity and diversity of parenting unless I experience it myself, I like to think I have enough empathy and understanding to be aware of what might lie ahead if we are lucky enough to have a child.
YOU MANAGE. Maybe this is a little mean, but I'm constantly surprised by my peers who have just become parents telling me how hard it is to be a mum without appreciating the irony. Before they were parents they were just like me, and while their lives have changed now they are parents, they manage. I don't see many differences in our characters or make-up, and in fact I perceive my relationship with the Boy to be stronger than some other relationships around me as he is very giving and wants to be fully involved as a dad, so while I'm sure it is incredibly difficult - if they cope, with as much if not more support around me, why wouldn't I?
IT'S BETTER THAN THE ALTERNATIVE. I suspect this is the real reason that these fairly empty and innocuous words press my buttons in the way that they do, because it's a pretty harmless phrase that irritates me so much. Many of the friends and colleagues who say this to me have been lucky in their experiences of conception and pregnancy and have never lost a baby. And that's how it should be - the majority of pregnancies go well, and I certainly don't begrudge my lovely friends their good fortune. In fact I hope it rubs off on me so I can join them in the parenting ranks! But, the flipside to me not knowing their experiences as the mother of a loud, demanding, lively baby, is them not knowing mine as the mother of a quiet, silent, lost baby. And believe me, getting over that is hard work too. Given the choice I know which outcome I would have preferred.
So - it's all out there now. This is just one of those examples when people say harmless things with the right motivations, and because of my experiences, their words irritate me through no fault of their own. We all have our blind spots, and I guess this is mine. It's nothing to do with my family and friends, and everything to do with me and what life has been like for me and the Boy over the past few months.
Deep breath, and time to let go. Maybe if all goes well, in a year or so you might even hear me turn round to a friend who hasn't got a family, telling her what hard work it all is... ;-)