Parenting does not suck. It’s just that some people suck at life.

Slate’s Ruth Graham recently wrote a piece entitled “My Life is a Walking Nightmare.” Why Do Parents Make Parenting Sound So God-Awful?

Graham does not have children but experiences the constant stream of whiny negativity from her parent friends on a daily basis.

My Facebook feed is an endless stream of blog posts and status updates depicting the messy, tedious, nightmarishly life-destroying aspects of parenting. I’ve gawked at “15 Unbelievable Messes Made by Kids,” “All the Birth Control You’ve Ever Needed in Six Pictures of Ponytails” (which appeared on a blog called Rage Against the Minivan), and this uterus-shriveling poston how “You will not get anything done when you are home with a baby.” There’s this one on how you’ll give up on your values, your body, your style, and your hygiene after you have kids. There’s that British comedian’s stand-up routine, which has been viewed more than 4,700,000 times on YouTube, about how even leaving the house is a miserable odyssey of screaming and fighting.

I’ve never understood these people. I’ve always found the incessant whining and persistent warnings about parenthood to be a sign of a person who sucks at life and wants others to feel the same.

Or perhaps the sign of a pie-in-the-sky parents who thought babies came straight out of the womb potty trained and ready for kindergarten.

Or maybe parents whose upper middle class lives have been so free of strife or turmoil that even a stuffed puppy could’ve upset the apple cart for them.

Either way, I encourage the childless like Ruth Graham and the expectant parents to ignore these whiners and complainers.

Even better, tell them to shut up. Tell them to go whine to a wall. Tell them to go home and never leave the house again. There’s no need to ruin a pregnant mother’s day with your inability to find happiness in the company of your child.

A couple years ago, I wrote a piece entitled “Raising my daughter is a piece of cake, and there’s a good reason why I say this as often as possible” in response to this negativity. Our daughter was three years-old and my wife was pregnant with our second child. Two years later, everything that I wrote is still true, despite such witticisms as “One plus one doesn’t equal two when it comes to kids!”

Last year I wrote a piece entitled My children absolutely adore each other. If you feel the need to tell me it won’t last forever, shut the hell up. It was in response to the idiots who saw photos of my children playing together and said things like “You just wait. Things will change between the two of them,” and “Just wait until he can walk and talk. Then all that love will be out the window.”

Imagine how much you must hate yourself to say something like that to a proud father.

If you’re like Ruth Graham and hearing this kind of nonsense or reading it on social media, turn away. Read my posts instead.

Believe them. Embrace them.

Parenting is not easy. It’s glorious.

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16 Responses to Parenting does not suck. It’s just that some people suck at life.

  1. EB says:

    There is a fair amount of psychological data that suggests that on average people are the least happy during the years that they have kids.

    • matthew says:

      I’ve read some of it. It was a feature in The Atlantic last year and covered in The New Yorker and other places.

      There’s also a fair amount of research that says that men tend to be happier than women at all stages of life, too.

      In typical Matthew Dicks fashion, I guess I would advise to avoid being average.

      • matthew says:

        I also wonder if the unhappiness that parents experience is related to expectations. Perhaps a more realistic view of parenting would yield a happier person. I think there is a lot of pie-in-the-sky pre-parenting beliefs in a lot of people. Reality is always an unhappy realm if you aren’t aware of its reality.

  2. Lucy says:

    EB, it’s probably because of all the negativity they get from other people.

    Parents put so much pressure on themselves to be perfect, have perfect kids, perfectly clean houses and such. It’s not practical.

    I was a nanny for 9 months and in that time, did I ever come across a parent who was perfect?

    No.

    And when you’re going to parks and other people’s houses and mum gatherings, you meet a lot of parents.

    But in that time, the parents who were HAPPIEST with being parents, were the ones who didn’t worry about that handprint on the wall, or the burst packet of rice, or the orange stain on their expensive sofa.

    The ones, in short, who put their kids first.

    When you shout at your child because they were sick on your suede shoes, or complain about them to other people, that’s sending a message to that poor child that you don’t love them as much as those shoes. And that message will negatively impact your lives.

    Yes kids mean you have to take more time zipping up coats and finding shoes, but if you allow for that, communicate well and listen, you’ll be happier. And, more importantly, so will they!

    In my 9 months of being a nanny, I never once had to deal with a temper tantrum. Not because the children were angels, but because I didn’t treat them like devils.

    I totally agree with your approach, Matthew.

  3. A.J. says:

    Thank you. I hate the “just wait until X” people.

    I’ve got enough of my own worries about parenting without someone telling me that I will never sleep again, that my life will be filled with vomit, or that I will never finish my next novel once our son arrives.
    Interestingly, the people who deal out these horror stories are usually the ones who gave us a hard time for not having kids.

    Honestly, though, I doubt these comments have very little to do with me personally. I think that by complaining about their lives with children these people are proving something to themselves: that they’ve earned some sort of invisible gold star for putting up with the demands of parenting, which sets them above the rest of humanity. It’s ridiculous, but people are insecure in all kinds of ways.

  4. A.J. says:

    Please excuse my bad grammar in the above comment. What I meant was “these comments have nothing to do with me personally.”

  5. tish says:

    I’m unfortunately on of “these people” although I suffer in silence. Until now. I miss sleep, my 10 month old throws tantrums all day long that would rival any 3 year old and I have an extremely difficult time doing the things I once enjoyed such as vacationing to exotic locales, surfing, yoga, shopping, sitting in silence and the list goes on. If someone were to ask, I would tell them I don’t love parenting and I would recommend reconsidering.

  6. Lucy says:

    Tish, you obviously do not so appreciate children. As someone who is finding it difficult to conceive, you test my patience.

    No shit! Your baby stops you from surfing and travelling. Wow, what a big surprise that must have been. I bet you couldn’t possibly have had the foresight for that.

    Go to the park, beach, pool, take some toys, snacks, water, pick flowers, take pictures, read, make new friends.

    And don’t have any more goddamn children until you can put them first!

    • tish says:

      My kid always comes first. Hence why I can’t do anything that also makes me, well.. “me”. I have no intention to have more. Good luck with your fertility.

      • Lucy says:

        Cheers, I may adopt a child instead. Why make more when there are people who’d give theirs up to go surfing our have them taken away because of drugs etc.

        We live in selfish times.

        • tish says:

          The sarcasm is unessesary. I assume it’s a sensitive subject because if your difficulties to conceive. My son was an unplanned pregnancy. I had always taken great care in the past but suprises happen. I’m taking responsibility as I should. I love my kid and he is well taken care of (I’m not addicted to drugs) but it is daunting and I can’t say I love being a parent. That’s my perception. I don’t know how to change my state of mind.

          • Lucy says:

            No, I am genuinely thinking about adoption. I am not bothered by not conceiving, only by losing a pregnancy again. I want a family and that is what I will have one way or the other but people like you puts me off. You haven’t a clue how rewarding it is, the incredible life you have made. Who cares if you can’t sleep or for, what, five years max you won’t be able to leave them on the beach to watch you surf our join you in yoga or enjoy your holidays with you? Who gives a damn? You have something better than that and if you can’t see that, I pity you. I hope that child never knows that because I certainly wouldn’t want to know that my mother wished I hadn’t been born. And she was eighteen and she said I was a beacon of light on her otherwise chaotic world.

            Who cares if you can’t sleep, it’s not forever! Your son has one childhood, if you don’t enjoy it then you have wasted his time and your own for no good reason.

            You probably live in America so the stresses of having children financially are appalling, but still I’ll stick to my guns on this one (hopefully you don’t have any of them lying around) it doesn’t matter where you realise your child in the developed world, you had a choice to have him and you cannot undo that now. So enjoy it, for goodness sake, enjoy it! And always tell your son his smile brought sunshine to your day.

          • Lucy says:

            As for changing your state of mind, just take one hour every day to play with him, watch him, talk to him. Just spend time with him. Watch how he learns to walk and talk, listen to him laugh. Take him swimming and take pictures underwater. Every mother can find calm in their children. Tantrums are often because they want your time, cuddles, kisses, time together. Sing and chat. Tantrums are through frustration – try baby signing, try soothing humming, try carrying him round in a sling facing you while you do household chores. Sleep wise all children are very different and this will only change with time.

            But mainly, through watching your son closely and interacting with him, you should be able to enjoy your time with him and see him as what he is rather than as what you are missing. I’m sure M.D. has plenty of blog posts on enjoying his children! And search the net for blogs for cheap activities.

            I’m a nanny in England, I live this stuff every day and I fall in love with the kids I work with.

          • tish says:

            I do all those things you suggest. We play all the time. Read books. We have a membership to an indoor play and learn center locally. We go the beach every weekend and sometimes when I get home from work during the week (we live across the street from one). My little guy just has a temper on him and has since the day he was born according to the nurse who delivered him. He’s just a high needs fussy guy. Like I said, he has a good life. You don’t have to worry about my little man one bit.

  7. tish says:

    I realise all the difficulties and restrictions a baby bring are temporary. The days are so long when you struggle. I anticipate when he is slightly more independent and autonomous as a child it will be much more enjoyable. I’m not a fan of this phase.

  8. tish says:

    Try losing sleep for a year or two before you say, “so what”. Lol. It really, really sucks.

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