Great expectations of being a new parent: The truth
If anyone asks me ‘what is it like to be a parent?’, many answers come to mind. But if I had to sum it up in one sentence it would be this:
“Parenthood is hard, but it is by far the best thing in the world”
Let’s face it being a parent is a pretty common thing. So why can feel like the most lonely place on the earth?
I felt that becoming a new parent was like having a whopping big slap in the face. All of a sudden everyday tasks that once could be done without a second thought become major tasks. For example, how easy is it to put on a wash? Simple right? NO! Now, it takes an age to complete, interrupted with demands from my little bundle. Attempts are made to perform tasks with one hand whilst cute bundle is in the other arm. Bit by bit I will eventually get jobs done. The day goes by so fast that if I manage to achieve one task in the day I feel accomplished.
For most of us, we change as people when we become parents. On the whole we grow and become better people. However in the transition period, that change in who we are, our identity, can cause great confusion. Once a confident and independent adult, you begin to question your abilities. Failing it appears, is not an option. Once upon a time I could concentrate, have intelligent conversations and be a master at multitasking. Now my concentration is as bad as my 4 year old and I’m just beginning to master multitasking again.
We seem to be under the illusion that we should be perfect parents form the day we conceive. But how and why should that be? Even with good role models, as new parents we are continuously learning what to do and yes, we make mistakes. Lots of them.
Pre-parenthood I had preconceived ideas about what being a mummy would be like. I had firm ideas about how I would parent. Well if you want the truth, then the joy experienced as a parent goes above and beyond what I expected but how hard it is goes way beyond what I expected too.
If anyone tells me that parenting has been easy from the start, I would be inclined to assume they are lying. I would assume that this is the cover they think they have to portray to the world around them. Having false expectations of perfection in my mind is a possible route to postnatal depression. It is easy to constantly feel a failure if you never meet expectations.
In a modern social media led world, we live our lives on show. We watch and listen as people show and tell about their seemingly perfect lives. Why wouldn’t they want to show you what makes them happy? A smile can often produce a smile after all. It is ourselves that assume a moment of happiness shared equates to perfect lives. But in reality, those same people are probably having battles just like most. They just haven’t shared them. It is also easier when we are at our lowest, feeling so alone that we assume that everyone else is happy. That becomes our expectation of parenthood.
My eldest is 4 years old and the truth is, it has taken most of those 4 years for me to adjust to being a mum and to realise that ‘perfect parenting’ does not exist. I now realise that I can do a good job. However this doesn’t necessarily mean being accomplished and being able to tick off all those prefect parenting boxes. To me doing a good job means making sure my children know how much they are loved.
So for any new mum or dad reading this, struggling to adjust to the new demands. Let me assure you that it gets easier. Give yourself a break and stop expecting perfection. There will always be times that are hard as you tackle new developments in their moods and attitudes but the joy they bring you is indeed immense.
Lets support each other on this incredible parenting journey
Here are a couple of TED talks with speakers sharing similar thoughts. I urge you to watch them.