It's OK, you can admit it.
Fellow mothers and fathers, let’s be honest and say the thing aloud that we're all secretly thinking: Parenthood is not only demanding...it’s kind of disappointing.
According to a recent study we’re not alone in this thought. Out of 2,016 parents surveyed, only 30% reported the same (or improved) level of happiness post-partum. That means that 70% think the exact same thing we do!
But why is parenthood so different from what we imagined?
Because the demands placed on modern parents are outrageous! The pressure to perform to utter perfection is unbearable.
Welcome to Motherhood —the land of never feeling like you’re doing enough.
Having a baby is not a simple thing anymore. Unrealistic expectations blast at you right from the start:
- Bottle or breast?...Apparently breast is best! Yet, you don’t have time to breast feed due to your occupation.
- To circumcise or not circumcise?...The former is much more appealing, but studies show the whole snipping thing is psychologically traumatizing.
- To co-sleep or not?...I would kill for a good night's sleep, but isn’t it worth the sacrifice when I can allow my child to feel safe when she is sleeping?
- Don’t forget to stare at your newborn for hours a day while thinking loving thoughts to stimulate positive self-esteem!...Even though you can’t sit down long enough to shave your legs let alone spend hours a day looking at a napping baby!
Also, don’t forget:
- Teach sign language by three months
- Reading by nine months
- Potty trained by 24 months
- Preschool by 36 months
- 20 minutes of reading each day (BARE MINIMUM)
- Capture every possible flipping moment of their magical childhood with your smartphone (yet also stay present in the moment at all times)
- Post hourly updates on Facebook: "Hey solid poop! Yeahhh!"
- Buy onesies with the months ironed on to post monthly birthday pictures (because annual shots weren’t obnoxious enough).
You get the point. The expectations for being a successful woman, perfect wife, and outstanding wonder-mother are ludicrous.
When I decided to make some babies, I based my idea of parenthood on what my parents experience. But the one thing I've realized is that quite a bit has changed since I was a kid.
Think about it: our parents didn’t have the pressure to literally show us the world by age three. They weren’t bombarded with scientific findings that scared them sh*tless because some new study concluded that doing X, Y, or Z dooms your baby to a life of failure!
I mean seriously, it’s too much. The pressure to do everything right robs us of the sweet joys of just being a parent.
Whatever happened to family game nights, sleepovers in the backyard, or just letting our kids run free with other children in the neighborhood until dinner?
Is there anything we can do to take back parenthood?
You bet! Give societal standards the middle finger and get back to the basics of being a parent. Once we can accept, unless we’re truly dysfunctional, that our kids are going to develop just fine, the relentless parental guilt will subside.
When that happens, we can begin to experience life’s simple pleasures, as if it were our first time, through our children’s eyes.
Just today, my 7-year old presented me with a dirty, yellow moth that she had caught and showed me how it extended a straw to drink the nectar from the flower. It was magnificent.
The bottom line: If you want your level of happiness back to where it was pre-babies, you need to rely on the advice from your ancestors, rather than your modern peers.
For one week, let your kids just be kids. Stop worrying so much about doing things perfect, and start to listen to your own instincts — they’re there for a reason.
I bet, you’ll observe results similar to what Adam Sandler did in his film, Grown Ups, when his kids finally unplugged and got back to basic kids play.
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