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"Let's be honest: A lot of the time parenting sucks."

“Never have I felt SO MUCH RAGE, HATE AND ANGUISH as I have done as a parent.”

I thought I was a shitty parent. I thought everyone was ‘doing’ parenting better than I was, because NO ONE else was saying one damned negative thing.

I’m pretty honest on Facebook about how amazing AND how shitty my mothering journey has been. And EVERY time I share something less than complimentary (only a fraction of the time, I really do love my children and think they are incredible wee people) I get at least 2 private messages and more as direct comments THANKING ME FOR MY HONESTY. Why is this?

Why is it that in a world where more of my peers are parents than not, are we all pretending to each other that it’s high fives, cuddles and sweet dreams 24/7? Why do we only share pictures and stories of the glory and none of the hell?

A LOT of the time parenting sucks. It is seriously time we were open about this.

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“It’s not all tears in my wine glass.” Image: Supplied.

It’s not all tears in my wine glass; parenting is also awesome and no parent I know would give back their child, but being in charge of a baby is the hardest effing thing on the face of the planet.

It is not the actual tasks involved in parenting that make it so hard; it’s the absolutely exhausting sleep deprivation that sends you totally insane, and the monotony, and the seemingly unending, repetitious feeding/changing/getting baby to sleep, and the realisation that your own needs are so far down the list, and the sadness and futility and depression that this is your life now.

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“A LOT of the time parenting sucks. It is seriously time we were open about this.” Image: Supplied.

It would be nice if a truer experience of parenting were spoken about publicly. How come none of the books or blogs I read told me to prepare for insanity/ hate/ despair? And how come they didn’t say that this was normal?

I thought it would all be lattes and park dates, and a couple of nights where my cute little buttons would stir and I would weave my motherly magic and back to sleep they would go. I went into this parenting lark without an inkling of how hard this would be mentally and emotionally. More fool me, obviously.

Never have I felt SO MUCH RAGE, HATE AND ANGUISH as I have done as a parent.

stories of parenting
“Never have I felt SO MUCH RAGE, HATE AND ANGUISH as I have done as a parent.” Image: Supplied.
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My first child is a wonderfully spirited little man who would scream as though we were torturing him at every turn (going down for a sleep/ waking up/ waking after every light sleep phase/ couldn’t reach his toy/ lying on his back/ lying on his tummy etc).Whilst trying to resettle him mid-nap or mid-night I would feel a hot fury rising through my body and imagine the most horrendous things happening to him. I imagined these terrible things and thought that would be a relief, this hell would be over. Then the instant he was finally asleep I would be bathed in warmth and love and look at pictures of him and marvel at what a wonderful creature we had made, how beautiful, how spirited!

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“My second baby is a little bliss ball. She is so sweet and calm and barely complains about anything.” Image: Supplied.

My second baby is a little bliss ball. She is so sweet and calm and barely complains about anything. Even still I have felt totally overwhelmed at 4am when she won’t go back to sleep, or when her nap is short in the afternoon and it ruins ‘the plan’ for the day, or when she needs attending to at the same exact time as her brother wakes or vice versa. Argh! And these are ‘normal’ children without any special needs. I can’t even imagine how much more difficult it would be if I were dealing with extra emotional/mental/physical challenges.

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I’m glad I was never recorded around 2/3am where I’d say things like “I fucking hate my children”, or “What have we done to ourselves?” Which translates loosely to ‘I really need to be asleep right now, I cannot handle my life’.

I did not realise how strongly and quickly my feelings could turn to blind rage. So grateful I am that my life has been violence free, so that is not my ‘go to’ in desperate times. I have however: slammed doors, yelled, screamed, punched pillows, cried and felt utterly, tragically futile and pathetic.

stories of parenting
“I’m glad I was never recorded around 2/3am where I’d say things like “I fucking hate my children”, or “What have we done to ourselves?” Which translates loosely to ‘I really need to be asleep right now, I cannot handle my life’.” Image: Supplied.

My husband has been yelled at, picked at, belittled and complained about/to more than I would ever have imagined too. This is the man who I genuinely think is the best living man on the planet and in a heartbeat would marry again. Yet we have found ourselves yelling at each other and throwing around the idea of divorce in moments of exhaustion and despair.

It can be so incredibly isolating when you have kids. People think you are too busy to hang out, but really you are just a slave to these little dictators and their sleeping routines! There’s a loss of identity that comes with parenting: if you are a person who has/had a career that you are interested in continuing, how do you manage that? How do you ‘stay in the game’ without compromising your children/marriage? How do you manage childcare/work/life balance? These are genuine questions that I have grappled with (no perfect solution ever presenting itself) and I know many other mums and dads have too.

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When well-meaning people tell me to “Treasure every moment” I want to scream and punch them at the same time. I try to remind myself that either their own parenting experience was so long ago that they’ve forgotten how long every day can feel, or that theirs are truly the most angelic (and probably boring) children on the planet (right? Don’t tell me I’m the lone asshole here).

I’m not trying to say that my lot is better or worse than anyone else’s life; I’m trying to say that everyone does it tough with young kids, but never in a million years would I trade my children (aside from every second day when I feel utterly murderous).

stories of parenting
“Never in a million years would I trade my children (aside from every second day when I feel utterly murderous).” Image: Supplied.

So to all of you who are feeling alone and imagining that everyone else is having the time of their lives, think again! We’re all in this together! In the old days we might have had our sisters/brothers/mums/dads/aunties and whole communities to share the load and reassure us that we are not losing our minds. Today all we have is the internet, and everyone knows that social media only shows us the glistening side of life and forgets the rest; a world of Facebook/ Instagram/ Twitter where everyone’s lives look AHMAYZING!

Here’s an idea: let’s talk openly about the highs AND the lows.

Feel free to share something, anything. Go on. It might make you, me, or someone else feel better….

This piece was originally published on RioandSunday.com. Gabrielle Henderson is a mum of two: Rio (2.5) and Sunday (8 months). Wife. Freelancer in a variety of fields (film/tv/makeup/jewellery). Lover of wine and gin. Just trying to get through each day. You can follow Gabrielle on Facebook by clicking here.

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