When I was first asked to write a piece about how to making parenting more joyful and less stressful, I immediately began racking my mind. Should I share tips and hacks for organization? I looked over to my kitchen counters in full spring bloom with my kids’ jackets, mail, random playdough and Barbie shoes. Should I write about how important it is to be mindful? My mind flashed to how often I’m engrossed in phone laughing aloud to funny tweets or the latest viral video as my kids race through the house at top speed on what must be the new trendy NYC party drug. Or I know, I’ll write about how important it is to take care of yourself. As I sit here in stretch pants and a t-shirt I’ve been wearing for 2 days not being able to remember the last time I gave my face a good wash, I’ll tell other parents that they should invest in self care.
“Maybe you’re not the one to write this piece,” the voice came and I agreed with it. I mean, what do I have to offer when it comes to telling parents how to be joyful? I collapse, not lay down, I collapse into bed as if it’s my own mother’s lap every single night. I curse under my breath all day long. I’m often resentful of how much I have to repeat myself.
I wouldn’t rather be anyone else than me or anywhere else but here, but it’s hard.
And then I thought again, well maybe that’s it. Maybe the first step to relieving some of what feels like a sting out of parenting is saying just that: It’s hard.
Parenting is hard.
It’s the best thing I’ve ever done, but it’s hard. Very hard.
I don’t sleep anymore. I pass out from exhaustion and am woken up multiple times in the night. I don’t consider that sleeping, I consider that an extended, interrupted blink. A temporary break in consciousness. The bare minimum amount of rest my body requires to keep its operating system up.
Cooking is hard. Laundry is hard. Keeping everyone’s schedules together is hard. Staying on top of everyone’s emotional needs is hard.
Parenting is hard, but I’m doing it. I’m hugging, I’m instructing, I’m showing up every single day for my children the best I can out of responsibility and most importantly love.
I don’t know if I’ve given anyone any more joy or peace. I’m not sure if I’m the one to inspire, but I can offer my hand and tell you that I know what it’s like. I know what you’re going through and I respect you for it.
More joy, less stress: maybe, maybe not. For now, what I can do is tell the truth and listen as you tell yours