I remember when I first searched for the words ‘’the myth of motherhood’’. I had just turned 24 and our firstborn was about 3 weeks old. I felt like I had made the biggest mistake of my life. My life before her was great. I had the job I wanted, the guy I wanted, there was nothing much that we could not afford and we had so much time. We woke up late on a weekend, had sex whenever we wanted to, and traveled from time to time. Everything changed with having that child. A friend of ours was having a birthday party that week. We had gone to this party the two years before the baby arrived. It was usually something that ended in the morning with everyone drunk. We were arguing about how best to get the baby to sleep.
It was clear that neither of us could go to the party and it seemed like we would never be able to do things like that again. It seemed like for the next 18 years our lives would be controlled by a screaming, completely illogical child. What’s more is that every day when my husband left for work I found myself counting down the hours until he got back. It was boring and exhausting and impossible to do all of the things that I defined myself by pre-baby. I could not read, I could not do my hair, I could not even do the regular housewife things that I imagined doing like cooking or cleaning. I was so tired and stressed out from trying to keep the baby calm and caring for the baby’s needs that everything my husband said or did started getting on my nerves.
For the first time our marriage started to change, there was less sex because the baby took all our time, less bonding, we were too tired to talk. Before the baby came we would talk every morning before work and eat breakfast together. I quit my job to be a stay at home mom so there was no longer any reason for me to get up on a morning. The baby was a late morning sleeper so that was also my only chance to sleep, I stopped seeing my husband on a morning. We were definitely growing apart and so I thought WHY didn’t anyone tell me about this? Why didn’t anyone tell me about the sleepless nights and how hard it was to sleep train a baby and about how the crying could send you insane and just about how horrible and suffocating it feels to have children.
I thought the myth of motherhood and parenthood was that it sucks and that parents regretted it and were all involved in a conspiracy to make the lives of single people horrible by also bringing them into the horrible world of parents. But in fact I was wrong. The time with my first born was an adjustment period, it was hard to give up parts of my single life that I will never get back, but what I got in return is so much better. So I am here to tell you (in case you do not know) about the real myth of parenthood. The far more destructive myth of parenthood is that it sucks. The real myth of parenthood is that it takes more from you than you get. The real myth of parenthood is that children and toddlers are all tantrum throwing trolls who seek to end all good things in your life.
And that myth is far worse than the myth that it is a bed of roses or a walk in the park. You see the thing is kids are humans and as human beings more than money or cars or houses or travelling we all crave human connection. Children are like balls of innocent love that are so open to human connection without knowing it that they allow us to find things that we did not even know we were missing. They kiss you when they wake, and sit on your face, or jump on your bed; they love you before they can even say the word love. They teach you about yourself and about life. They help you to grow and they do not misbehave half as much as they do behave. They are fascinating to watch and to see them change and grow is amazing.
Children give their parents, through love and companionship so much more than they could ever take away that every time a single person tells me that they want to remain childless I want to scream at them ‘’no! do not buy into the myth’’. I do not say that because I know their situation may not be compatible with kids, or their personality and they may in fact enjoy life to the fullest without kids. But I cannot help but feel that they have been poisoned by the lie that children take more than they give. Society is lying to single people, the lie comes from a good place, it comes from the fact that there are hardships (many of them unnecessary) that parents face, but the good in children far outweighs the bad.
Also your life does not stop when you have kids. A new chapter of your life begins, but your life does not end. Since having our two kids I have started a business and made a world of friends and my husband and I have in fact gotten 10 times closer than we could have gotten without our kids. It is not true that kids destroy your marriage. Kids are like projects that you and your spouse share. You are both working on the same project and that brings you closer than you can imagine. Children also push you to become more responsible and to start owning your life and to stop complaining so much. They make you focus and they motivate you. They open you up to the world of parenthood, you begin to understand the problems that other people may be facing.
You start understanding and seeing relationships differently and you empathize with people differently. You can see all humans as children who were once loved and nursed and cared for and you know some of the problems that parents are facing and so can better empathize with them. Also watching children grow just gives you a joy that cannot compete with the freedom to party or wake up late on a Saturday, though I really believe that we should not have to choose between those two worlds. I think that the reason many parents hate parenthood is because they are not supported as much as they should be. It takes a village to grow a child and to me that is why the stay at home model does not work as well as it should. Unless there is an active stay at home parent community available to the parent and kids; the stay at home model is isolating.
But that is for another post, for now I just want to say if you are thinking about having kids whatever you do DO NOT FALL FOR THE MYTH OF PARENTHOOD! Children do not take more than they give, they are not all roses and butterflies, but they certainly are worth every sleepless night and every missed party! Yes, society still has a lot of work to do with respect of making the average person’s life more compatible with kids. Yes, to enjoy kids to the fullest we have to bring back the community and allow parents the room to bond with the children, but those are all issues with society, not kids.