I just found this post in my drafts folder – dated October, 2013 (the Little Mister was almost 2). I think it’s still relevant now – especially as I’ve experienced quite the journey with secondary infertility. I have occasionally heard the words, “At least you only have one child. I have (insert plural number here). Just wait until you experience it!” as a way of telling me that I have it easier and have no idea. Sure, I probably do have it easier in some ways – I definitely have it easier than someone who wants so badly to become a parent but cannot. But I’d also argue that the challenges I have faced have not been a cup of tea or a picnic or a walk in the park either. I know I wouldn’t wish my challenges on somebody else, that’s for sure. Both myself and every other parent/person have had our own journeys and they’re both likely to be as unique and as valid as each other’s. Someone will always seem to have it better than us and some will always have it tougher than us. It’s not up to us to judge what that’s like for them and whether they’re suffering enough. It’s not a competition. I try to keep myself in check about this all the time…
Fellow (erm…probably female) parents…do you remember being pregnant for the first time? Do you remember feeling bone weary tired and uncomfortable sometimes (or all the time for those less lucky?). Do you remember the late pregnancy insomnia? The aching and the need for some kind of body pillow arrangement that your partner dare not disturb? Do you remember those times you told someone about how tired you were and that someone had kids and that someone kept saying, “Pfft. You just wait until you have the baby. Then you’ll know the meaning of tired.”
You know, with that tone that says clearly, “Ha! This person has no idea!” followed by an evil laugh because you know they’re secretly enjoying the idea of you suffering in the near future.
Remember every time you opened your mouth and someone would say, “Oh you just wait…”
“Oh, that’s nothing. You just wait until you have the baby…”
“Oh, you just wait until they’re crawling…”
“Oh, you just wait until they’re walking…”
“Oh, you just wait until the teething…”
“Oh, Terrible Twos? There’s Terrible Threes…”
“You just wait until you have two kids! Oh, you have two? Well, that’s nothing compared to three!”
You know what I mean. Some of you might even have a person you know in mind when you read this.
Look, these things are fine in the context of a positive conversation between friends/family members, but what I’m referring to is those who have quite the case of the snarks. That person who is competitive or condescending.
I can’t promise I won’t ever say any of the above things at some occasion (in the right moment hopefully with the right person at the right time with the right tone), but I can promise that I will never do it with the intention of making someone feel like their experiences are less valid because they’re not parenting a child yet. Or ever. I also sincerely apologise if I’ve ever unintentionally p*ssed someone off.
I’ve just never understood that attitude.
I mean, what’s their point? So they’re further ahead in the parenting game and always will be. That’s fine. Good for them. If they have any useful advice or humourous anecdotes we can relate to and feel better about, that’s really great. But what’s the point in bringing us down while we’re learning?
When you’re f*cking tired, you’re f*cking tired. When you’re struggling, you’re struggling. When you’re juggling, you’re freakin’ juggling.
When you love a child or care about children, that experience is real. Even if it’s not your own child.
I look back on my life BC (Before Child) and I think about the times I was bone tired. Did I take some freedoms for granted? Absolutely!! But were my experiences valid, real and necessary to enjoy/live through before having a child? Abso-f*cking-lutely! Imagine if we all spent our whole life leading up to having children, stopping ourselves and saying, “Oh, this pales in comparison to when I will have children.”
That would be ridiculous, yeah?
I remember staying up all night frantically finishing university assignments, feeling like my whole future rested on the success of my studies. The pressure, the stress, the late night panicked phone calls from fellow students about group assignments. I would spend weeks in a daze, just wondering when the hell I would rest and then when “holidays” arrived they were spent worrying about the rest of my life (the part that had been neglected).
I remember the stress I’ve been through when terrible events have happened. The constant juggling – family, friends, university, work, self care, my relationship, etc. Having to say no to things. Having to feel like trying to find the right balance is a nightmare. Realising you can’t please everyone.
All of those things were real. Doing it tough when my husband lost his job – not having disposable income. That was real. Just like it’s real when a baby comes along and it costs a lot to keep them in nappies and formula and god knows what else.
And what about those who cannot, or choose not to, have children? Are we smug parents saying that none of their life is valid or complicated or real? F*ck off!
We’re all in different stages of life, making our own different decisions. All of us deserve respect for where we are. We all have our paths to follow, new things to learn. All in due time.
I feel sorry for those who will try to convince us that life is going to be horrible when pregnant or when we have children. Sure, there are some crazy times to be had (my path wasn’t exactly ‘glowing’), but those crazy times are for everyone to experience for the first time themselves (if they ever do). For all of those times, there are so many other blessings that make parenthood worth it.
Having a child has really made me learn a lot about how deep your love can be. It’s this pure, unconditional kind of love I didn’t know you could feel before I had a child. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t know what love was beforehand. I’m just experiencing a new kind of love. When some parents say, “You can’t know what love is until you have a child”, I do get what they’re saying, but that’s not a very nice thing to say around people who don’t have a child!! They do know what love is. Sure, they might not share the experience of having your own child but that doesn’t mean that someone without children doesn’t know what unconditional love is. Or what it’s like to care for someone who will test you constantly.
We’re all running our own races, facing our own challenges. All of our journeys are just as important and as challenging as someone else’s.