“Don’t Worry, It Gets Better,” And Other Parenting Lies

“Don’t Worry, It Gets Better,” And Other Parenting Lies

Lately, I seem to be surrounded by friends and neighbors with babies. And because I have two seemingly well-adjusted children, every once in a while one of these new moms will ask for my advice. Do I tell her the truth?, I think to myself, or do I fall back on that old lie seasoned parents use when a newbie complains about sleepless nights, teething or endless ear infections: “Don’t worry, it gets better!”

When I hear that, all I can think is, Really? When? Because from where I’m standing, it doesn’t get better, it only gets … different. While you may eventually get more sleep, lose the baby weight and see your friends again, nothing will ever be the way it was before.

Another lie – OK, half-truth – I hear people use: “Hang in there, it gets easier.” Again, no. Things may get more tolerable after the first few years, but “easy”? You best just remove that word from your vocabulary. Because just when you think you’ve figured out the whole parenting thing, another challenge arises. And another. And another.

The truth is this: Being a mom can be wonderful, sure, but it can also be downright painful. That pain can catch you off-guard, too, like stepping on a Lego on your way to bathroom in the middle of the night. One minute everything is fine; the next minute, you’re lying on the floor in the fetal position, crying your eyes out.

I think we do a disservice to new moms by telling them it gets better or easier. Because then they expect it to get better or easier, and when it doesn’t, they feel like they’ve failed in some way. I’ve been a mom for 11 years and I still don’t know what the hell I’m doing most days.

Rather than give these moms false hope, I say we try a little honesty: Most days, being a mom sucks. You can do everything right and it still sucks. But if you keep putting one foot in front of the other, you’ll figure things out well enough. Remember, there’s no such thing as the Perfect Parent. She doesn’t exist. So do your best and practice a little self-compassion. Chances are, your kids will turn out just fine. And if they don’t, well, you can always use their college fund to pay for a good therapist.

Mmmmmmm, thank you for the donut, Mommy. I love you. Wait, did you just touch my napkin? I hate everyone!!!!!!

 


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