A Harsh Look at the TruthAugust 19, 2008
My cousin, who will turn 40 at the end of this year, recently asked me for some input on whether she should get pregnant and have a child, even though she is not married or (as far as I know) in a serious relationship with someone. I pretty much told her NO WAY and then she asked me some more in depth questions about why I said that. As I wrote my response, I realized that one of the things dragging me down right now (and there are several) is some parenting-related frustration. Here’s what I told her:
The teenage years are more challenging because the kids are just more difficult to deal with. They tend to fight you on every little thing, so you are constantly locked in battle. They treat you like the enemy even though you are doing what is best for them and you are on their side. They treat you as if you’re stupid and know nothing about how the world works. And the issues are more challenging, too. When they’re two, you worry about things like potty training. At six, it’s how will they adapt to school. At ten, it’s socialization issues with friends. At 14, it’s worrying about drugs & alcohol, sex & pregnancy, school grades, the future, and their livelihood.
As for guilt… Most moms spend a lot of time beating themselves up because they wonder if they had done something differently, would their child be better off. We feel guilty if we yell at them. We feel guilty if we take time for ourselves and leave them in someone else’s care, no matter how qualified or loving that someone may be. We feel guilty if we admit to anyone that we’re feeling overwhelmed, uncertain, or frustrated in our role as mother. There’s also a lot of incidental guilt about making the “wrong” decision — breast feeding or bottle? Thumb sucking or pacifier? Public school or private? The list is endless.
Could I imagine my life without children? Yes! I imagine I would be living in a bigger house, wearing nicer clothes & driving fancier cars. I would be eating out at nice restaurants at least once a week. I would see the latest movies on opening night. I would be taking vacations in Europe every year. I would be well-rested, and as a result I would look at least five years younger than I do now. 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, I adore my kids, but there are times when I realize life would be SO MUCH EASIER without them.
So, no, I don’t recommend becoming a single mom on purpose. Like I’ve said before, it takes two people to make a baby because it takes two people to raise a child. It’s not a one person job. And no matter how many supportive people you may have in your life, there’s just no adequate substitute for two parents raising a child together.
And yeah, I’m feeling guilty about writing all that. But it’s completely honest and 100% real. Motherhood is not for wimps.