Parenting is amazing, but you don't have to love it every moment of every day. Right?
Do you love being a mother? Do you love it?
As a new mother I get asked this all the time. Usually I answer, 'Yes,' with the appropriate aw-shucks grin. But sometimes I tell the truth, which is rather more complicated.
I write this with an adorable four-month-old reclining in my lap like a tiny Roman hedonist, pushing his fist into my face every now and then for me to kiss. It is mid-afternoon and I am yet to shower. My hair is lank and the cut I asked the stylist to rush through a few weeks ago (as baby sat in the corner) is not really doing the business. My nails are bitten to the quick, my skin is scaly, and I'm wearing a robe that smells of sour milk. If the meter man or Plunket nurse turned up I would be mortified.
I haven't slept properly since the third month of pregnancy, which means I haven't been fully rested for nearly a year and, yes, my brain is suffering as a result. Some days I feel like a crazy person and I'm pretty sure, given my interactions with innocent bystanders at the supermarket and dairy, that I come off as a nut-job too. No, folks, today I'm not loving it.
That doesn't mean I don't love the little hedonist. He is fabulous, the best. But he also is the most intensive project I have ever undertaken. He makes my master's degree programme look like a cake walk, a joke. Losing 20 pounds of puppy fat through consistent, boring gym training and boring sensible eating? Pah! Rehabilitating my knee following three operations, no problem.
As a goal-oriented person who takes great pleasure in a job well-done it is a real challenge to wake up every morning and start afresh. There is no finish line for this one, no grades or centimetres lost by which to measure progress. Just me and the kid, hour after hour, day after day.
And that's cool. Nothing that comes easy is ever really that satisfying, etcetera, etcetera. I just wish people would stop pretending that baby-wrangling in any way resembles a soft-focus ad for toilet paper. Babies are cuter than anything in the world. Actually, let me rephrase that: your own baby is cuter than anything in the world. But they are not magical—the cuteness and cleverness and amazingness of your wee child is not enough to take away the fatigue, self-doubt, anxiety, and confusion of your day-to-day existence as a new parent.
So let's be honest about it, and stop beating ourselves up for not absolutely loving it every moment of every day.