As I was putting my 2.5 year old daughter to bed tonight, this paradox of parenting was going through my head, and quite possibly it will be nagging me for ages unless I let it all out and set it free, so here it is: I really don’t like parenting.
This post is most likely going to be my most personal write up to date, and the small minded will read anything they fancy between the lines and deem me a shit mother, which is not technically true, however I’m not the greatest either. To start off on a positive note: I do love my daughter. Not because I should, since it’s my DNA and it’s how the nature created us and how our brains are coded (well, for most of us anyway), but because she is genuinely cool. She is funny, and good hearted, with the ability to apologise and make anyone feel good about themselves. I still haven’t mastered either of those traits, and she’s got it down to a tee at 2.
I love my daughter but I don’t enjoy being a parent. I wanted to use the word “hate” here, but apparently it’s a bit strong. It’s hard to judge those nuances being a foreigner.
I accept that we are all different. There are some of us who wanted to have a huge family since they remember. Males and females alike, making it one of their life priorities: 3 kids and a dog. I get it and I salute you. I was never that person. I was never bothered to have a big, white wedding, but I wasn’t against it either. It was something that had no significance to me.
I started dating, and life was fun, until at the age of 20-something, after splitting up with yet another boyfriend, my dad announced to me that no doubt I will never get married, because my attitude to life and relationships is not serious. Then and there the challenge was set, without him even realising. “I’m never going to get married?! You just watch!” I was engaged a few months later, and no, I did not propose either (not against it, just wanted to clarify here, for the clear picture in the story). I wasn’t that concerned about the qualities of my first husband, all I needed to know is that he would look good on paper, and would make my parents realise I’m not a contestant for “The Undatables”.
About a week before the wedding, my mum asked me if I was getting married out of love or was it because it’s a “thing people do”. Without engaging my brain, I said “because I’m 24 and that’s what you do at 24 right?” My mum didn’t say a word, she was neither upset nor happy. This statement rung in my ears for a few days. I was getting married because that’s what you do, the society carved my path to happiness and I was about to follow.
The wedding was in a swanky venue with a golf course, we had a violin player during our champagne reception. It was just another day, except I had a muffin size gown on, and suddenly everyone was interested in what I had to say. It wasn’t the case on most days. I was marrying a British public school boy, no doubt his whole family voted pro-brexit. His nana collected royal memorabilia and hated foreigners. At the dinner, prior to our wedding, my soon-to-be family dissected the social group of people, whose bodies are “scarred with tattoos”. They were soon to find out all my bridesmaids, who were to be wearing back revealing dresses, had tattoos all over their bodies. They were mortified their son was marrying “down”. I didn’t care. As far as I was concerned, I was doing what people “do”. I exchanged my good looks for what I thought was meant to be an upgrade in my economical and social standing. I was soon to realise, that no amount of metal on my finger would make me “belong” where I don’t.
The marriage fell apart, and I spent the rest of my 20s trying to figure out what it really was I was after in my future partner. Having terminated my first “marriage experiment” due to my then ex partner’s bio-polar nature and an eye for women walking streets at night, I was ready to give up men for a bit and concentrate on my career, which was going as amazingly well as my private life was not. I was now a partner in an investment firm specialising in £50k+ lump sum allocations and life was fun. But I wasn’t getting any younger, and society wanted me to get serious about my life again. My parents were lamenting that my ovaries, unlike the Merlot I downed by the gallon daily, are not getting better with age, and I “should” do something about it. The timing was great, as I managed to come across the amazing man that is currently my husband. He shook me to the core and explained to me that it really doesn’t matter what others think if it doesn’t make me happy. He was right then, he is right still. But then I am a stubborn donkey, so my love for proving people wrong hasn’t died.
We got married.
I was now over 30 and the society knocked on my door again, reminding me I should start thinking about reproducing. My old friends moved teams and now they were all “adults”, given this badge by the sheer coincidence their ovaries were active and healthy and they managed to create a sprog or two. They had this mild look of pity, listening to my stories from the weekends away we’ve had, the gallons of booze we were going through and how amazing our life was. It almost looked as though they didn’t believe we had fun. As though they thought we were saying this because we are unfulfilled by not having kids together. We were pretty damn fulfilled, but that look of pity was grinding on me. Only people with no kids will ever understand what I mean. “The look”. It’s a thing.
I have a theory on the matter. We all start from the same point, as childless, go through puberty, life’s ups and downs, then some of us start reproducing, motivated by different things, and they become a part of “the adults group”. The group that is now a slave to a little, nice smelling creature. You are their bitch. You are there to serve them. You cannot get out of it and there is no holidays. Some of us love it, some of us hate it. They will never admit it, and that’s ok. Then when on a rare occasion, they get out of the cave that is their home, “the group” is trying to get you to join them, because why the hell would you go trotting around the world, fuelled by Grey Goose, when they are ball deep in nappies?
People are funny creatures like that. We want all our friends to have great lives and succeed and be happy, until they are happier than we are ourselves. So the member of the said “parent clan” want you to screw up your life too, because then you will be back in the same boat, with the same problems, having something in common again. They will tell you that kids will fulfil you, that there is no greater joy than having someone love you so unconditionally (and we all want to be loved, so this one will resonate with every one of us and make us all feel gooey inside). They will tell you that kids are the best thing that happened to them. This may sway you to have a go at this parenting thing. God knows, you may even enjoy it. For me it was something else. Someone challenged me. Again, the competitive donkey in me took over. I had the dickish sentence thrown at me, that woke up the “I will show you” attitude: “YOU WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND, YOU HAVEN’T GOT KIDS.”
I got myself pregnant 3 weeks later. I mean it as well. My husband had little say on the matter.
My nature was never pro-kids. Kids annoyed me.
The anger and spurs of the moment was gone, the nasty comment was long forgotten, I was on the plane to Spain, and my seat was being kicked repeatedly by some kid at the back. I asked his parents if they could keep an eye on him as it’s really annoying, but they did nothing. I turned around to my husband and said: “I changed my mind, I don’t want kids anymore”. I didn’t realise my spontaneous “husband rape” fuelled by the rage about some irrelevant woman telling me I don’t understand shit because I am childless was successful. This in itself is an achievement, since I managed not to get pregnant for years of questionable protection, and countless prayer in the bathroom, starting with: “God, I know I am an atheist, but I swear I will go to church and use a condom [paradox?!] if you spare me this kid malarkey just this time.”
I got pregnant by my husband, but in a way it felt as though I got impregnated by social expectations of where I should be in my life at this stage. I had my “pop” at the career thing, and it was all very “cute”, but what about family? Where is this relationship going? “So when are you thinking of trying for a baby?”
I enjoyed baking. I was actually pretty ok with pastries.
I had keen interest in fashion, and although I was never a girly-girl, up for weekly visits to the hair and beauty salons, I loved heels and I could dissect McQueens collections in my sleep.
I lived in London for years and that lifestyle, although full on and tiring, was also my fuel. We then lived together in Warsaw. Our lives were full on, busy and glamorous. We moved to Sheffield, to meet the expectations of society and have a house with a garden and a dog. The silence and lack of “party fun” was killing me, but baby was going to change all that. I registered with Pinterest and suddenly found the urge to succeed at every front. I wanted to be an amazing wife, homemaker, mother. Bake cookies and throw massive Christmas parties. “I am definitely going to love all this shizzle when baby is here. We are coded this way. right?”
Women, by nature, are suppose to enjoy it. Building a nest together, chat over coffee about the local gossip and be on top of most soap operas. I will get there. I will have the time, my baby is going to go to 30 different classes a week and speak 5 languages. It’s doable. On top of that I need to get some form of a project together, so a little start up maybe, to keep me focused. Marissa Mayer can become a head of one of Fortune 500 companies days before giving birth, Sheryl Sandberg can be a COO of Facebook, and not even lose a beat when her partner suddenly dies, Maggie Robinson can most certainly have a kid and earn a living at the same time?!
I was about to be the Martha Stewart of the north. I really believed it. Then my daughter was born.
I realise the post natal depression is a real thing. It hits you up to a year or so after popping out a sprog and then it leaves, and you can get on with your life. I don’t think I was ever “hit” by it. I think I was slowly immersed in it with every passing day, and it never really left.
I am not Martha Stewart. I stopped baking. After 3 years of doing regular yoga classes, I get so consumed by work, I haven’t got the time for it. I became a part time parent, not because we needed the money, but because I genuinely, with every inch of my body love and enjoy working. Whatever professional project it is I immerse myself in, I give it 100%. The only project that never got my full attention is being a great parent. I don’t like it as much as I hoped I would. I don’t enjoy small talk about nothing. I hate soap operas. I don’t follow celebrity gossips and could easily live without the tv. I live and breathe my work.
Some of you may have that pity look now, thinking it’s very sad. It’s not. My daughter is loved, healthy and happy and the only person who knows I’m a fake at parenting is me.
What is the purpose of these 2300+ words?
Parenting is not for everyone.
You don’t have to want everything and do everything that is considered a “social norm” (except for torturing animals, being a rapist or other horrific stuff, which is not a norm for a reason). Do what you feel in your bones will make you happy. Don’t let others mould you into their idea of you. If everyone is different indeed, then why at one point in our life we all need to do the same thing and get married, have kids, love Kim Kardashian. The pressure is strong, you are stronger. If you fear one day you will change your mind about the kids scenario: freeze your eggs. “Have kids, you will never be ready so may as well have them now.” No, if you are not ready, you are not ready. Don’t go down the isle with someone who is not your best friend and who does not support you 100%, just because you don’t want to be a wrinky bride, or not a bride at all. Don’t let others bully you into anything. You may never be ready, and it’s still ok. And you, YOU WILL BE JUST FINE.