Why is parenting so effing hard?

I think I may have sounded, in yesterday’s post, like life with my kids is idyllic and wonderful and effortless. I was glad to have the writing to focus me on the parts I love about this parenting gig, because yesterday was actually a rather difficult parenting day.

How is it okay that the most intricate, least predictable, most emotionally draining, least perfectable job in the world HAS NO MANUAL? No training, no license – just do it. Just make it happen. RAISE THOSE KIDS.

I mean, people offer classes you can take. Experts have written books you can call manuals – but my daughter didn’t come with one for her. I read manuals I consider very wise and useful, and still, I’m full of questions every minute.

Like, why is my baby waking up when she’s still so tired? Why does she fall asleep and then her eyes pop open as if she’s ready to go? Why, when I can see that sleep-window opening, is it still so hard to get her to sleep sometimes? And even harder, the more tired she gets? SHOULDN’T SLEEPING BE ALL BUILT-IN AND WHATNOT?

And as it turns out, my three-year-old provokes even more questions… Why does he retain every syllable he hears about cars and Smarties and friggin’ leatherback turtles (if Diego talks about it), and then release to oblivion every word I tell him about the dangers of choking if you run around while eating? Why does he insist on the whiny voice even though it doesn’t get him good results? Why won’t he try just ONE TINY BITE of something OFF the list of thirty separate foods that must be consumed separately? Why does he wake up, baby-like, before he’s done sleeping? Why is he being a turkey and doing exactly what we just told him not to, when we RAISED HIM BETTER THAN THIS? Why is he not listening again?? IS THIS NORMAL???

If it seems like I’m overusing my caps lock all of a sudden, too bad. Those are the CAPS that go through a mom’s head when she’s trying to keep her voice reasonable, confident, and loving, so that the baby/three-year-old will think you know what you’re doing.

As I’ve said before, at least we know why they’re so cute-looking. Keeps us from stuffing them into small soundproof spaces that latch from the outside.

Let’s not forget the questions for – and about – myself. Why didn’t my maternal instincts cover this? Why wasn’t this technique part of my womanly intuition? Why did I sign up for this again? Why am I not better at this? How does ANYONE do this with MORE THAN TWO CHILDREN??

I know, I need to loosen up. Sean and I were discussing the other great primates and how they do things – they seem pretty laid-back about parenting. They go with the flow. They’re ALL instinct, and it works just fine.

Photo by bartdubelaar

Of course, they don’t have dishes to do, they don’t have to make sure they have a clean nursing bra, their older kid is fine by himself because he’s supposed to be a crazy ape anyway, there are no diapers, no toys underfoot, no grocery shopping… and no addictive NaBloPoMo blogs to read. (Darn you, you fascinating people.)

Maybe if I had a clingy-fingered baby and lots of chest and back hair, I could find a way to be supa-chill about this whole parenting thing too.

Of course, in that case, I’d probably have a few other issues.

Being human is so complicated.


P.S. Now my daughter is smiling at me, ridiculously fetching. …What was I upset about again?


19 thoughts on “Why is parenting so effing hard?

    • diblog says:

      Wow, Jennifer – sounds like a busy household! My mom had her first two 18 mos. apart – and then somehow went on to have two more! Amazing (and I’m grateful she did since I’m #3). Thanks for reading, and glad you got a laugh. 🙂 (And you weren’t having comment trouble – just the first time you comment, it has to be moderated first.)

  1. Auntie CL says:

    yep. normal.

    do some babies really sleep?

    … and, once you’ve mastered a particular difficulty, it exchanges itself for something else.

    (plus, re-read the Frances books for perspective.)

  2. emerge says:

    You did raise him right. He has just figured out how to do things in his own funny way. Consequences of raising a child with the brains.

    On a lighter note: you DO have lots of chest. 🙂 And that part is working pretty well for baby, yes?

    (I was going to do some dishes today but there were noise issues. Maybe tomorrow I’ll manage to be in the kitchen at a time when A isn’t trying to nap. It is SO nice that there are some things that can actually be accomplished with a reasonable amount of effort, unlike data analysis and chapter writing.)

  3. Beverley says:

    All I can say is….it gets better. Having children is definitely the most exhausting thing that you will do…both physically and emotionally. We had our 2 yr. old grandson stay with us for 4 days and 3 nights this past weekend. He is so adorable….but a very busy boy…and fortunately he sleeps well. Now I know why we had kids when we were younger!!! The day was filled…if it wasn’t meal time….it was snack time, play time, nap time, story time, bath time, and finally bed time. I really don’t know how I did it with 2 little ones when I was a young mom…..but being a mother has been the most rewarding and important part of my life!

    • diblog says:

      Beverley, I’m glad you say that – some people just say it gets worse instead! (Teenagers and all that.) Luckily, I can also say, even this early, that being a mother is the most rewarding and important thing in my life too. It’s all good, really.

  4. Julia says:

    Heehee, this is so true!! Being a parent is so ridiculously hard, even if you were well prepared for it.
    I love the humor here, though…because truly, I think that’s the only way to get through this. 🙂
    Julia recently posted..PriorityMy Profile

    • diblog says:

      Julia, yes! We tried our best to be prepared… and you figure it must be easier the second time through, right? Haha. Thank you for the vote of confidence. 🙂

  5. Erin T says:

    It’s taken me a few days to get around to commenting that I really enjoyed this post when I first read it. Parenting two kids (while working – just wait, that part is fun) definitely decreases the commenting time…

    Seriously, though, things certainly do get better and this post was so true and funny and you’re doing great. I just went out with one of my best buddies on Sunday night who’s a new father of a 5-month-old son and he’s normally so funny and kind of private/quiet – and we normally go out more often, I haven’t seen him in months! – but he was just sort of ranting: “It’s so hard! My life is changed! It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done!” (And he’s very accomplished.) “I have less tolerance for my friends who don’t have kids and don’t get it! Why didn’t I understand when you and everybody else told me my life would change?!” (Because nobody understands.)

    Also, just wanted to point out that parenting is not so easy and natural for other primates. One of my favorite books on primates (a favorite reading topic for me) is Jane Goodall’s “Through a Window”, where she narrates the story of several decades of generations of chimps. More than a third of the book is on motherhood and how it is a learned skill. There are many chimp mothers who abuse, neglect and abandon their babies, and even (ick!) cannabilize the babies of other mothers. The good (and somewhat unsurprising) news for most of us here reading you is that good primate mothers raise good mothers.

    • diblog says:

      Erin, thank you for your words. You are a very wise mama and I wish we could hang out more (it’s only been a couple of decades!).

      It’s totally true and kinda funny that we hear all the warnings, and we think we get it… but we don’t. It’s always harder, even when your kids are relatively “easy”. I can imagine it must be doubly (or triply) hard for people who DON’T believe their lives will change that much. Because hello?! Whole new person!! For whom you are ultimately responsible!

      And now I must find myself some primate literature. A gap in my reading I did not realize I had – but that must clearly be filled.

  6. emerge says:

    I can’t reply directly, but Larks and Di – hahahahahaha! That is a really GREAT idea. (Though i’m not convinced it would always work… I have dated some guys who already did have kids, and were in fact dealing with not great situations with exes and custody, and still thought that a good contraception method was the phrase “it’ll be fine!” But maybe a video with high-def audio crying would be more convincing than a slap upside the head.)

    • diblog says:

      ah, emerge… you have known more than your share of boneheads… it’s a good thing you have the common sense enough for both (all) of you.

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