Having had kids before most of my friends, I’ve now reached the stage in life when many in my circle are coming to me for parenting advice.
“Your boys are so fun, so precocious, so well-mannered. What’s your secret?” they ask.
“Don’t kill them.” I answer.
People always chuckle when I give that advice. “No really,” they say. “Really,” I reaffirm, “Don’t kill them. You’ll want to, but don’t.” They stop giggling and never ask me for parenting advice again.
But I stand by this advice. Don’t kill them. You’ll want to, but don’t. We like to pretend that outside of some adorable sleepless nights right after they are born, that parenting is a magical gift full of love and joy. And sometimes it is. Sometimes your heart is full of such inexplicable love that you feel like it might burst. You know that you would die for your children, and you would die if anything ever happened to them. You can’t imagine your life without them.
But there are other times.
We try to pretend that other times don’t exist. We try to pretend that good parents (especially mothers) enjoy every minute of parenthood. This, I firmly believe, is a misogynistic tool used to oppress women. This is to keep them from questioning the unequal burden that motherhood places on them. This is to keep them from asking for more. This is to keep them quiet. And it’s dangerous. It’s dangerous and invalidating and oppressing.