I don’t know why i do this to myself. Why i click on links that target overwhelmed parents of young children. Perhaps it’s just because of how common they are. I come across that type of article several times a day. I look away most of the time, but then, once in a while, i click and read the words of those parents who have normal parenting problems and who deal with daily annoyances and small-scale dilemmas by writing tongue-in-cheek pieces on parenting websites.
I clicked yesterday even though the title of the article already was making me cringe, You Have Plenty of Time to Love Them Later. The advice it offered, and that I would have perhaps appreciated had things been different, seemed so so wrong :
9. Children aren’t always babies.
This is seriously insane. We’ve barely even started making memories, we’re not running out of time. It’s just that no one on Pinterest is making felt collages of their kid’s eighth year.
10. You don’t have to cherish every second.
You will be out with your baby and some well-meaning person will tell you, “Savor every minute of this time, it goes by so fast!”
This is a terrible thing to say. It’s true, but it’s still a terrible thing to say.
“Savor it!” What if I’m not savoring it enough?
Yes, it goes fast, and then it’s over, and then there are whole new phases and problems. And yes, you’ll feel bad when they aren’t babies anymore, but you would have felt bad anyway, so at least you got to read that magazine. Don’t kill yourself. Have fun when you can, get through it when you must. Relax. You have plenty of time to love them later.”
If Paul was home with me, if I too was exhausted from sleepless nights caring for him and the feeling of never having a moment to myself, I would probably find an article like this funny, or insightful. But as I read it now, I can only see through the eyes of a childless mother. I cannot read for a few lines without wanting to talk back to my screen.
I want to yell sometimes. I want to say that yes, sometimes children are only given the time to be babies, and that no, you don’t “have plenty of time to love them later.”
I know that having a baby, and then a toddler, and a child, involves real challenges that i didn’t get the chance to discover. I do not want to dismiss the valid experiences of other parents. I know that six months or a year from now — if all goes well — i might need reminders that it is ok not to love every single part of parenthood. Yet i can’t read that kind of advice without feeling frustrated.
How do you deal with it?
On the other end, i really appreciated the last episode of NPR’s new podcast Invisibilia (actually, i really enjoy the show so far). Using the experiences of blind children and the people who care for them, it explores how love and fear and expectations are intertwined. And how they can hinder a child’s development and happiness.