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This place matters

Sunday, March 22, 2015


A friend posted a link to this brilliant blog post (warning: so many swears) titled I am grateful, now f**k off. In it, the author talks about how, every time she talks or posts about some of the less joyful parts of parenthood, someone inevitably responds that she should be grateful for this magical and wondrous miracle, even if that little miracle is a shrieking ball of poop and drool. As she puts it:
Be grateful! Be grateful! One day they won’t be shitting on you! And you’ll be like “omg, I long for the days when I was covered in sour milk and diarrhoea!” So – be grateful! You might be so exhausted that you’re crying on the toilet but these are the best days of your life SO BE GRATEFUL 

So it isn't enough to spend months elbow-deep in the little miracle's bodily fluids; you have to like doing it. And I think that kind of talk does moms a great disservice. Parenting is terrifying, and I've see women who were clearly born to be mothers upside down and inside out with the certainty that they are the worst moms ever.
From what new moms have told me, the first several months of munkin's life are an endurance trial, forcing parents to deal with wave after wave of bodily fluids punctuated by lots of screaming and no sleep. And while the reward is, I'm told, well worth the cost (I have my doubts), the best parents in the world couldn't be expected to whistle and grin the whole time.
So I find it weird that people who have kids are the ones dispensing the obnoxious advice. Or maybe it's not so weird. Maybe it's evolution. See, hearing my friends' and family's horror stories about the screaming little succubi is all the birth control I'll probably ever need. So maybe parents have to forget about all the hellish bits, or no one would ever have a second child. 

Labor Pains, Akiko Yosana

I am sick today, 
sick in my body, 
eyes wide open, silent, 
I lie on the bed of childbirth. 

Why do I, so used to the nearness of death, 
to pain and blood and screaming, 
now uncontrollably tremble with dread? 

A nice young doctor tried to comfort me, 
and talked about the joy of giving birth. 
Since I know better than he about this matter, 
what good purpose can his prattle serve? 

Knowledge is not reality. 
Experience belongs to the past. 
Let those who lack immediacy be silent. 
Let observers be content to observe. 

I am all alone, 
totally, utterly, entirely on my own, 
gnawing my lips, holding my body rigid, 
waiting on inexorable fate. 

There is only one truth. 
I shall give birth to a child, 
truth driving outward from my inwardness. 
Neither good nor bad; real, no sham about it. 

With the first labor pains, 
suddenly the sun goes pale. 
The indifferent world goes strangely calm. 
I am alone. 
It is alone I am. 

In the end it all comes down to this: nobody should be telling anyone how to feel. Emotions aren't decisions, they're forces of nature. So telling someone to be happy when they're operating on about an hour of sleep and the baby is shrieking like they're in a Rage Against the Machine cover band, it's kind of a dick move. 


Should Fish More said...

You are correct....not everyone should have children. Many, like perhaps yourself, are much better off not going through it.

jenny_o said...

Can it be overwhelming? Yes. Can it be unpleasant? Yes. But complaining about it only gets a person so far. In fact, dwelling on stuff, whether it's anger, hurt, lack of sleep or most anything else, tends to make a person feel worse about it, not better. That may be part of the reason why remembering to be grateful can actually make you feel better.

Brigid Daull Brockway said...

Thanks for reading Jenny. I don't have experience raising a baby, but I can say from experience that "be grateful" is not helpful advice while you're still cleaning someone else's poop out of your hair :). While it's good to remind ourselves to look on the bright side, it's also true that if we don't vent sometimes, we'll eventually explode.

jenny_o said...

Oh, I do agree with a certain amount of venting - but then we have to move on, or else the venting begins to fuel our feelings instead of relieving them :)

jenny_o said...

Ack - I hit "post" too soon ...

I think it's a common misperception that "getting it all out" is good for us, but there is evidence that the opposite is true, that focusing on other thoughts actually reduces our negative feelings. Some blogs I've read seem to be all complaining all the time. I was kind of thinking of those when I commented - sorry!