I believe that the joy of parenthood is a bit of folklore perpetuated by our own collective inabilities to accept that having children is one of the most daunting tasks one could ever undertake in their mortal lives.
Why folklore, you might ask. Think about it for a moment. If you have kids (or know someone who is) what does everyone say? “Oh a little bundle of joy!” “You’re pregnant? You look simply radiant! You’re glowing!” “This is such an exciting time for you, you must be so happy!”
My wife (who as much as I love her, looks like a beached whale and is inexplicably now growing a beard), doesn’t look radiant and she isn’t glowing. She looks, well she looks like a bearded and beached whale who groans painfully when she gets out of a chair and has ankles the size of tree trunks.
The supposed “bundle of joy” is going to pop out and start gobbling up time and resources that used to be otherwise free for doing more clearly joy-aligned things like driving my two-seater convertible car up to Vermont to spend a relaxing weekend with my non-beached and far happier wife.
The very first day when I get home from the hospital and the truly exciting time is about to begin, the aforementioned bundle either lays there lifelessly and uninteresting for hours on end, or screams mercilessly at me for hours while I try desperately to figure out just what the heck the monstrosity is looking for.
And yet, I may be one of the first people in line to congratulate the next father or mother to be, likely spouting all the same foolishness that everyone spouted at me.
Why? I believe that it’s because the honesty of the situation is too much for people to bear. It’s hard for people to accept that they may be different; after all, if their child isn’t their one and only sunshine in life, perhaps they are horrible parents? Or people? Maybe all those other people are happy because they are doing something right that they have done oh so very wrong? Maybe they’re just not cut out to do that which they were obviously put on this earth to do. Maybe, as human beings, they have failed.
I believe we should stop doing this to people. While certainly we love and enjoy our children (yes, I do love my kids), we must as a culture and a society stop perpetuating this myth that having children is all about cute dresses and fun walks through the park. We need to be honest with people about what they are in store for, so that people are less afraid to reach out to their friends and family when they are in pain and in need of help. We need to stop afflicting people with the lies that set people up for disappointment and doubt in their own abilities in something that they never could truly be prepared for anyway.
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