I’m trying to decide whether to have a full existential meltdown, or just analyze away something that’s digging away at the corners of my mind. Let’s see where I wind up after telling you this:
A new mom, amazing person with lots of early childhood experience told me this week, “I don’t get it. This is a lot of work, but it’s just not that hard. Why do people say this is so hard?” Cut to a few hours later, and a professional, kick-ass mom who is quite open about not finding her reason for being in parenting, said, “There are just some women who are meant to do this. I’m not one of them.”
So I’ve been thinking, incessantly: am I cut of non-parenting cloth because I do find it hard, or are we having a difference not of opinion but of semantics? No, it’s not hard. It’s exhausting, not hard. It’s draining, not hard. Parenting full time is more work than I’ve ever done, but it’s not, she’s right, actually hard. It is hard to do it all day every day, but the work, itself, is not hard. Hard to make it through behaving properly, but not hard to do. Fine.
A five-year veteran who doesn’t think she was cut out for parenting has always made me feel like I’m doing okay. Now I’m rocked by a mom who has tons of pre-baby experience with children and has spent two months with her own babies and doesn’t see why people warned her it would be hard.
Maybe my phase with a newborn was different because our first four months were colored by intense breastfeeding pain. But every new family has issues that make things tough, though, so I can’t write off my lack of pleasure as resulting from early pain.
Maybe because I start thinking, about an hour before nap and all the time after nap, every day since my child was six months old, “when are you going to sleep?!?!!!”, maybe I’m not cut out for this work. I’ve known for a long time that my child probably deserves a more patient caregiver, but that I can’t fathom having someone else raise my child. Why have a kid, I’ve always reasoned, if someone else will spend more time with my child than I will? But that new mom, who doesn’t think life with a newborn is hard, makes me think maybe I should have someone else do this for me. Because I don’t always like this job. In fact, I rarely like this job. Love the kid, loathe the work. The not-hard work.
I can’t get over that it’s not just the language.
Of course, I didn’t feel put out by motherhood until six or seven months. I didn’t feel completely out of my element until past a year. So maybe if I wait this out, that new mom will come over to the side of those of us who think we were probably made to do something else.
I doubt it though. She’s probably just going to be one of those who do it all well, easily, and with a smile.