The Hidden Truth About Parenting Isn’t That It’s Really Hard

From the moment that I revealed I was pregnant the compliments from other parents began to roll in.

Hope you’re ready to never sleep again.

Your hair will all fall out.

Just wait until he’s a toddler.

Just wait until he’s a teenager!

Are you familiar with the meaning of an What is episiotomy?

Friends, coworkers and strangers saw my round stomach. The last was actually my doctor.

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At first they didn’t bother me. My excitement was unaffected by them. As the months passed, so did the number of comments. The comments started to make me question if anybody actually knew. LikedBeing a parent is a blessing. Everyone seemed to be unable to find anything positive to share. I’ve always liked kids, but from what I was hearing, the second you had any of your own, you find out “the truth”: they drain you, demanding snacks at all hours, crying all night, breastfeeding too much, not breastfeeding enough, breaking valuable heirlooms, forcing you to become an exhausted heap of a person who can’t even drink a cup of coffee without a tiny person insisting on watching Blippi while picking their nose and wiping it on your unused grad-school diploma.

This was what I expected to see?

Motherhood has been glorified for a very long time. When my mom was pregnant in the ‘80s, she told me it never occurred to her that it would be hard because nobody talked about the challenges. She was surprised when we weren’t little replicas of the perfect children she’d imagined, children who slept through the night and were happy to sit quietly in a playpen until we were 5. My mom instead took my brother to preschool for the first interview. He turned on every outdoor spigot he could and filled the playpen with water.

So now, people try to avoid making it seem like it’s all snuggly babies and well-behaved toddlers who would never purposely flood a Montessori vegetable garden. We started talking up about topics that had been ignored, like postpartum Depression. Television fathers were allowed to express emotions and we stopped portraying mothers as happy June Cleavers with plenty of time for waffles each morning. AndMaintain a perm. Perhaps we did not realize how important it was to talk about parenting. The good news was that we forgot to continue sharing it with the other bad.


It was May 2020 when I gave birth to my child, which is one of the most terrible times in human history. It could have been worse, of course – it wasn’t on the Oregon Trail or during the Ice Age – but it wasn’t great timing. For the first few months of my son’s life, beyond the normal impossible baby things like swaddling and sleeping on the schedule of someone who hasn’t figured out night from day, we couldn’t see anyone. Friends and family saw him by Zoom, or holding him high up in a window. It would have been so nice to be able hold him. They should have been there to hold me. One night when he wouldn’t stop crying, I drove to a Starbucks parking lot where I sobbed until the sun came up. It was a strange thought.It’s exactly how I heard it..

But even as a first-time parent of a pandemic baby, I’ve found there is so much good. Why didn’t anyone warn me about the good? I don’t mean good in the sense that my toddler is easy (he’s not) or my parenting is perfect (last night my son ate 30 tater tots and nothing else for dinner). But good unlike anything I’ve known before becoming a parent. Sometimes after my son goes to sleep, I revisit the feeling of being with him like it’s a drug. Just by seeing a picture of my son playing with a dumptruck, I can easily release endorphins.

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Maybe that’s why it’s hard to tell people about the good. The best moments of parenting sound mundane but feel otherworldly: The first time my son heard “Jump in the Line” by Harry Bellafonte and it stopped his crying immediately and I danced around the room while he laughed. Cuddling up on the sofa and watching. AutosStroking his hair again. Kicking a soccer ball in the park as the sun sets and the whole world is purple and orange — the whole world is me and him.

A few nights ago before bed, my toddler went around and said, “Good night, I love you!” to all of his trucks, our cats, his dad, and me. He’d never said “I love you” to me before. It felt as if someone grabbed my heart and squeezed it so hard that the ventricles burst. I’m glad we’ve become more honest about parenting. But now when my friends are about to become parents, I try to explain this: some moments you’ll be so happy, you’ll practically combust.


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