Being a Mom Is Not That Hard -- So Everyone Lighten Up!

Rant 8

momSometimes I get tired of being so serious about motherhood. These days we're all supposed to lean in and carpe diem and read at least 15 books on the various parenting methods before we can make one simple decision. I'm all about moving along with the times, but when did being a parent become so complicated?

Moms! Dads! This is not rocket science. Being parents isn't really that hard.

I mean, yes, sure, from a physical perspective, being a parent is hard. We have to go on very little sleep and make life-changing decisions about a living, breathing human being.

But intellectually, parenting isn't hard. All it takes is a little common sense to figure out that you must raise a child from 0 to 18 without killing them or at least without dropping them (at least not more than once or twice ... accidents happen to the best of us).

In fact, for centuries, people have parented, and done so fairly well without all the trappings of millennial parenthood. As The New York Times writer Frank Bruni opined recently in an article dubbed, "A Childless Bystander's Baffled Hymn":

I’m confounded by the boundless fretting, as if ushering kids into adulthood were some newfangled sorcery dependent on a slew of child-rearing books and a bevy of child-rearing blogs. The counsel keeps coming, from every possible corner and from unexpected shamans.

As a parenting blogger, I could take offense (and I don't agree with his entire essay). But at this I shake my fist and say amen.

Ours is a generation that takes parenting much too seriously. And the point is getting lost in the shuffle.

Take the words of one of my favorite parenting bloggers, Glennon Doyle Melton. Her hilarious and probing forthcoming memoir, Carry On, Warrior, was excerpted on Today Moms this week, and she addressed the insistence that moms "carpe diem," embracing all that motherhood throws our way:

This CARPE DIEM message makes me paranoid and panicky. Especially during this phase of my life while I’m raising young kids. Being told, in a million different ways, to CARPE DIEM makes me worry that if I’m not in a constant state of profound gratitude and ecstasy, I’m doing something wrong.

What Melton describes is the exact sentiment that's brought me to tears more often than I'd like to admit. Rather than valuing our total worth as parents, we are seeing bit parts of ourselves pulled out as representative of the whole. The efforts of that mom who walks the floor for hours with a colicky newborn, for example, are rendered moot by her admission that she didn't actually enjoy those exhausted hours with her sick child in her arms. She failed to carpe diem.

Just imagine what would happen if she, gasp, admitted she likes spending time without her kids! Or struggled with breastfeeding.

THIS is what's wrong with modern parenting.

We have become so entrenched in debating the minutiae of the day-to-day that we forget to look at the whole picture. We are taking each piece so seriously that we simply can't step back to take it all in, lest we lose sight of each single issue.

And folks, it has to stop. Now.

It's all well and good to progress as parents, but for crying out loud, the wheel has been cast. We should be fine-tuning, not creating a new one.

Do you feel like motherhood is hard? What could you relax on?


Image via Jeanne Sager

baby first year


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nonmember avatar Cynthia

I think parenting IS hard! Certainly harder than it was in our parents' days. The expectations and perceptions for parents today are harder to 'meet' and the world is not as carefree and safe as it used to be. It's simply not realistic to send kids out the door in the morning and not have them return until dinner time like days gone by. Even what children are expected to learn in school at young ages has placed a bigger 'burden' on everyone. The pressure to make these little people into big people while they're still young is huge. Do I think we can all mitigate much of this and learn to let a lot roll off our backs and let go of a lot, hell yes, but that doesn't mean that parenting isn't a hard job period! You are supposed to be doing your best to help shape and guide these little people into GOOD BIG PEOPLE! Sometimes this means it's really hard because as the parent we have to be tough and strong and say NO to our kids. Not an easy thing to do, but a necessary one!

nonmember avatar haskettedu

I agree Cynthia. I get so annoyed that older generations brag about how this generation sucks at rearing children. Get the kids out the door, then be home for dinner, then sit and do your homework and go to bed. That doesn't pan out now. Even if our children are school age, we are expected to volunteer and to be there physically on a regular basis. The kids want to go to the park? We have to be there to make sure they don't get kidnapped. They want to go ride their bikes around town? We have to go with them to keep a vigilant eye on them.

nonmember avatar April

One thing that I've learned (and it applies to both parenting and school and work) is to do what you feel is best and screw what everyone else thinks. It has really taken a load off my mind.I raise my children according to both what my husband and I think is best. If one person thinks I'm too mean for grounding my daughter to her room for the day, and the other thinks I am too easy for grounding my son from video games for the week, who cares? It CAN be easy, once you get past what everyone else thinks.
Of course I worry, worry that I am too hard, too easy, yell too much whatever. But I KNOW I am doing well, I see it in my children. I'm not always right and I admit it when I am wrong. I'm far from perfect, but I have happy, healthy children. Whatever anyone else thinks, I don't care, as long as I have that

nonmember avatar andie

April's comment above is perfect. I can't add another thing.

insei... inseineangel

Amen, Jeanne, and right on, April. It ISN'T rocket science. We overanalyze and overcomplicate EVERYTHING these days, and parenting is one of the biggest things we do this to.

Get down to the basic nitty gritty. We are mammals - animals in a sense - and bred into every species on the face of this planet is the sense that we must procreate and ensure the survival of our species. Born into US - human beings - along with many other animals on Earth, is a thing called maternal instinct. We KNOW what to do, it is in our genetic makeup. Give birth, feed your child, keep your child warm, and protect them from dangers they cannot protect themselves from. Teach them. Love them. Get them to a point in life where they can keep the cycle going. We did it successfully for thousands and thousands of years, before books and other media jaded us enough to doubt what is programmed into us.


Mrscj... Mrscjones

Geez @April and angel you both said exacrly what I was rhinking. Preach Jeanne!

nikol... nikolita87

I think this article is amazing! Yes parenting is hard emotionally and physically, but some people DEFINITELY over exaggerate it. I totally agree about the carpe diem thing too. There will be moments that are less than extraordinary and that is normal, and it should be seen that way. Some people put forth so much effort and yet they're constantly struggling. People have been raising kids for thousands of years. Yes, being a good parent is something to feel proud of but don't get on a high horse. It's been done before you existed and will be done again.

Josette Crosby Plank

There's always been parenting experts telling parents how to do what the experts think they don't know how to do, and evidently - since the advice didn't stop with Aristotle - there always have been parents fretting over not being able to parent the right way. Here's a short list of examples I've put together, complete with 1811 Mommy Olympics and breastfeeding debates:

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