The Worst Thing About Parenting Is Other Parents
Despite the tantrums, endless diapers, potty training , rotavirus, hand and foot disease, trips to the ER, perpetual sleepless daze, and overall angst and worry that come with parenting, I always say that the worst thing about parenting is other parents.
It starts in the birthing class. "Oneupmomship" starts while the wee one is in the womb. All the chatter about designer organic crib bedding, European strollers, stretch marks (who has them and who doesn't), cup size, doulas, birth plan. Gah! My ears were on fire after six weeks of that class. I couldn't take it anymore. Then again, my husband and I were misfits to begin with in that crowd. I had no pregnancy war stories to tell. I didn't look pregnant from behind. My ankles stayed as such without a cankle in sight. I had experienced no symptoms in any of the trimesters. Pregnancy was easy peasy. The women hated me. It didn't help that in a new parent version of the Newlywed Game we chose "Bad to the Bone" as our baby's theme song. You should have seen the gawks and gasps from the Rockabye Baby crowd. But come on, in that song the baby falls out of a tree! What exactly is comforting about that?
Of course after our son was born we found ourselves surrounded by more parents than non-parents in our social circle. The talks of educational toys, crying it out, co-sleeping, bottle versus breast, blah blah blah continued. Don't parents have anything to talk about other than their kids, I wondered. My husband had an escape from that world. He got to go to work. In an office. With grown ups. I was always the lone mom out at the park because I wanted to talk about the news, cooking, celebrity gossip, Duran Duran, anything but my kids. Look, it's not that I don't love my kids and bust myself gloating and fawning all the time. But I was in Kidville 24/7 and needed a break. Playground time was for mommies too, right? A time to reconnect with women, friends, neighbors. Was it just easier to talk about our children, the lowest common denominator in any group of parents?
I was simply surviving this parental road trip without a map, a textbook, or a compass. It was the first time in my life I had to rely on intuition alone. I did benefit from some (solicited and unsolicited) advice I got on those playdates. I did enjoy hearing about Ella's latest moves and Paxton's recent sleep success. But I wanted more. I craved more. I never connected with the women whose sole identity is tightly coiled around the mantle of motherhood. I can't shake the woman I was before someone called me Mommy. And I'm not sure I want to.Continued on the next page