Sunday, August 8, 2010

the pros and cons of parenthood

Just read an article in the Sunday paper entitled 'Motherhood a piece of cake? You're kidding' by Jo Case, which was a response to a previous article in last week's Sunday paper, 'Is motherhood really that hard?' by Jacinta Tynan.

(A quick disclaimer, this post isn't technically about design, but it is about parenting and writing, which is a kind of design no?)

Robbie, my second, at 2 days old.
I have to say I agree more so with Jo Case about her experiences of motherhood than I do with Jacinta Tynan. For me it's the constant questioning, yes this is the most amazing experience for me, and for us as parents, to have a small person look at you in the way only a 3 year old could - you are like their own personal sun. How can I see this experience of motherhood or parenting as 'difficult' or 'hard' when I should be filled with joy or find it 'exhilarating and rewarding' as Tynan says.

You know what, I do find it exhilarating and rewarding, especially today writing this as I am after a birthday party for said 3 year old. And as much work and cooking as was involved, nothing could match the joy and rapture that was evident on his face when a roomful of people were singing him Happy Birthday. These are the moments that make it worth it ten-fold.

This is the point though, they are moments. When washing crap out of underpants or trying to make dinner with a 1 year old clinging to your leg and whinging for the food you are trying to make - please tell me which of those moments I should be relishing.

Or the difficulty trying to find a part-time job in my industry. To the point where I have decided to start my own business to ensure I work the hours I want and get to spend at least half the working week with my boys. OK so this is a decision I have made, but I feel I have no choice if I want to stay in the career I started, and put your hands up who reckons starting your own biz with 2 kids under 4 is a good idea? I don't see this leading to blissful rewards and endless exhilaration anytime soon. Eventually, maybe, but you have to have goals yeah?

The above articles both showcase very different experiences, and this is what needs to be remembered, we will all have our very own, unique experience of this parenting gig. Some people will take to it like a duck to water and never look back. Others will find each day as difficult as the last and wonder how they would get through it were it not for the loving embrace of their child.

It would be interesting to see another article by Jacinta Tynan in 6 months time. Or after she has another child if she is so inclined. I also remember how blissful a nine month old is, by himself. An excerpt: "I know our baby boy is only nine months old and isn't even crawling yet, let alone tearing through the house crashing pots on to the floor. I know I only have one child who is healthy and I, thankfully, escaped the cruel curse of postnatal depression, but still I can't see what all the fuss is about." Jacinta Tynan 'Is motherhood really that hard', Sunday Age, 2nd August 2010.

Nine month old. One child. 'Easy' baby. No post-natal depression. Already back at work after paid maternity leave*. Sounds pretty good to me, esp the no PND part. Too many people I know (myself included) have gone through enough feelings of despair after having children without having to be told that "hey it's really not all that bad is it?", way to make us feel better.

I found Jo Case's article more relate-able. And I will be checking out her reading list, namely "The Mask of Motherhood" by Susan Maushart and "The Feminine Mystique" by Betty Friedan, and from her descriptions, I should have read these some time ago. From Case's article: "Maushart explained motherhood can be painful and crazy-making, but that doesn't mean you don't love your child. This permission to mourn my loss of self was also my gateway to slowly regaining it." It's nice to know it's not just me.

Wow was this ever a ranty post. Feeling much better now! Got anything you want to get off your chest? Feel free...

* From Jo Case article


  1. Hi Sandra,
    I totally agree with you here. Parenting is not easy and those who say it is are probably getting someone else to look after their kids! I am fortunate that my hubby is at home looking after our little girl (18 mo) and I am working nearly full time. I would hate to have to put her into day care at this age and a nanny is out of the question so luckily we are in the position that this works for us. My family have moved interstate and hubby's family are all far away too so we manage with just us. The support of family close by would make things easier but what can you do? I think the moments that are wonderful are truly wonderful and the trying, trivial and sometimes torturous moments with our little ones can be overwhelming. But we always have love in our hearts and for me there is nothing more precious than watching my little girl sleep soundly next to me, or hearing her laugh and giggle at silly things when I feel truly grateful for having her in our presence.

  2. Hi Leah,
    Thanks for your pov, and yes you are fortunate to be able to structure your time so you have your little girl with one of you at all times, and you have been able to go back to work! Sometimes I think a job would give me back just a bit of my sanity but as my post says, I can't do it part-time and hubs earns more than me so we have no choice. And I agree, family would make things much easier but ours are all interstate as well, still you make it work for you and find a way... and the little smiles and milestones and especially the cuddles are what get us through.

    With regards to the articles, women just need to let women work it out for themselves, support each other and know that everyone has it a different way - no point in telling mum's who are struggling to suck it in as Ms Tynan did... hmph!

  3. I completely agree that we all need to live and let live on the parenting issues. None of us are the same and there is no set in concrete right or wrong. Mums that are struggling need support and encouragement. 'Suck it up' may work on the sportsfield, but in order to facilitate change in this and most other circumstances, a voice needs to be heard.
    Having said this, I have generally had a fairly good experience with my kids and sort of sympathise with some of Tynan's comments, esp that it feels like a guilty admission, hence why I took a while to comment. It is hard work on a daily basis, but overall the most enjoyable and yes, easy, positions I have held (waiting for cyber faceslap). By all means, certain things suck hard, but as a whole not so much.
    I think had the focus of the article been more of her own experience without tearing others down, it would have definitely been sweeter to swallow.

  4. I remember reading the article and getting angry! I had an easy baby (now 14 months and still "easy"), a great partner, lots of support from family and friends - and paid maternity leave to boot. It has still been the hardest year and a bit of my life! Its not just the looking after a small child, its the total upheaval of your life. Everything I thought I knew, I had to think again! I don't regret having my baby from a microsecond, but I'll never say it was easy :)