Parenting is so brilliantly full-on. The highs far outweigh the lows and something as simple as a smile can melt away any adversities in that very moment irrespective of what else in going on in the world. Sleepless nights, trips to the hospital at 2am or the see-saw between paracetamol and ibuprofen on a two-hourly basis are not long-lasting enough to overpower that smiling face in the morning or a simple call from the bedroom next door - “morning mommy, morning daddy”. Parenting is full-on, but we find ourselves saying that we would not trade it for anything in the world.
Fact! I would not give my little girl up for anything. She is such a joy to me and makes me laugh far more than anyone else ever has; all this at the tender age of five-and-a-half (NEVER forget the half or undermine its importance - insert smily face here!!). She is fun, spontaneous and wonderfully imaginative. There is no doubt that her presence lifts my mood and revitalises my soul. The problem is, is that my soul is very deep these days. The facade of “everything is ok” far outweighs the reality. Offering to help strangers, stopping to direct someone who is lost, etc are all a ploy to convince myself that I am ultimately a good person. Friendliness is so very rewarding, but a sigh later and I am back to where I started. I am comforted in the fact that my voice is not a lone cry - postnatal depression (whether the sufferer is mother or father) carries with it a similar darkness. Mine however is not the latter, but more the fact that my situation finds me going at parenting alone these days (read the background story here). I have dedicated a few posts to postnatal depression in fathers, done radio interviews on the topic and been a strong advocate for bringing it into the public eye, but psychology has done little to equip me to face up to the cognitively exhausting and physically draining reality of maintaining a positive attitude. Ensuring that kind deeds are seen by my daughter so that she learns through my actions rather than my spoken words, all the while combating the complexities of adult relationships and ensuring that her faith in “til death do us part” is not shattered or warped, brings about its own level of exhaustion; the irony of the juxtaposition is quite laughable.
As parents, we go through a great deal to protect the innocence of our little ones…we hide financial stress, relationship worries, troubles at work, death, etc, and sometimes humorously mask it all with a simple one liner - “of course Fido is in heaven my love”. We do this so that we can give them the most protected childhood possible - we all know that being an adult sometimes sucks, the responsibility of it all can weigh heavy on our shoulders, but we strive to preserve our child's faith in the world, their little minds which are filled with excitement and adventure, and it is right to do this, and as their protectors, so we should. Children will come to learn the harshness and complexities of the real world sooner than we can prevent it, so why prematurely introduce it to them with our own woes? We are stronger for being parents, we are more selfless for being parents, and we are so richly blessed to shape and mould the life of that little thing which has been entrusted to our care.
Sometimes we sit with our head in our hands and wonder where the time has gone, we wonder how we can be better, better to ourselves and better to our little ones. We worry, obsess and cry ourselves to sleep because sometimes, just sometimes, it is all too much. We berate ourselves and long for things to be better. We are so busy holding on to what is wrong in our lives, that are arms are not free to embrace what it right, what is good, and what brings us true, deep-set happiness. It is only natural to be focussed on negative cognitive thoughts, these automatic gremlins which cloud our ability to objectively see our own situation are not only understandable, but entirely normal.
If you relate to these words, know that you are far stronger than you give yourself credit for. You are brave, thoughtful and caring. You are putting your child above your own needs and that makes you an awesome parent. Sometimes I wish that the real world would just stop hassling me so that I can get on with loving the love of my life - a utopian thought don't you think?