Sunday, November 22, 2015

All Joy And No Fun

This book is one of my new favorite books.  I got it a few months ago, read it within a few days, and started reading it again this week because I needed it again.  The premise of the book is this: There is so much research about how parents affect their children; this book is about how children affect their parents.

The writer talks a lot about the stress, isolation, depression, anxiety, feeling of wanting to run away from home some days, marital strain and a whole slew of other things that children bring.  It's all those nasty emotions that parents feel and aren't supposed to talk about because we're constantly told things like "children are a blessing" and "parenthood is the best job."  

Thank goodness for technology that allows me to call or video chat with some friends when I just need to vent about my life.  I have a few friends who let me say what I want to say no matter how un-P.C. it is to say it.  To most of the world I complain that my kids threw a fit about having to get into the car on the right side instead of the left with an chuckle.  I joke that my son will grow up to be an award winning actor because he is an expert at pretending he is sad or that his tummy hurts.  I laugh about the fact that my days are filled with making up inane puppet shows and reading the same book four times in an hour.  But the reality is that most days it sucks.  I don't always cope well with staying home so much.  

I can tell my support system that I'm stir crazy being cooped up in an apartment for weeks on end because it's just too hard to take two toddlers anywhere in the winter.  I can call and complain about how tired I am trying to juggle shopping lists, school schedules, doctor appointments, dentist appointments, vet appointments, my own medical appointments, paying bills, cleaning the house, cooking dinner, finding sitters, budgeting, planning a wedding across the country, car maintenance, and more while trying to make a name for myself in my profession in a new city, I can tell them I'm depressed that I don't have a career anymore.  I can call them crying when I'm locked in the bathroom because listening to one more tantrum over what color bowl he got for his snack is going to put me over the edge and make me do something I regret.  And you know what they say to me?  They say, "Yep...parenthood can suck some days."  They never tell me that the years fly by so fast and one day I'll look back on this and miss it.  They never tell me that I'm so lucky that I was able to have kids and I should be grateful.  They never tell me that these are little children who are only three and can't control themselves.  And they never tell me that other people have survived what I am going through and survived with less support and resources so I shouldn't be complaining.  They understand that my life is breaking me at that moment and being grateful is not an option.

When life is calm I do think of all that I have.  I was able to go through the surrogacy process with support from my family and friends.  I had a great surrogate and an amazing lawyer who helped me through so much.  I was lucky enough to have two healthy, smart children.  At times I can be grateful.  But remember that children do a lot to a parent.  If any parent seems unhappy, remember that parents deal with lost income and careers, lack of sleep, constant stress, limited time, loss of social relationships, marital stress, and possibly more emotional issues like medical treatment for children, major financial issues or mental health crises while trying to juggle everything life throws at them.  Parenthood is rough and I'm a big believer in saying so.

In another 20 years when the boys are out of the house and have (hopefully) left the nest and are making it in the world on their own two feet I'm sure I'll say that I miss the old days when they were three years old.  Everyone seems to hit that point.  Memories are selective, right?  But for now I believe in being honest with my feelings.

And then, just when it seems like this journey is no fun, something joyful happens.  When I'm feeling like just can't give any more Aaron decided to draw some pictures.  He made family portraits of his grandparents, his uncle, his brother, and his daddies.  Pretty amazing to see there is some awareness of the world around him.