Let me say first off: I love my children. Love with a capital L. But I did not enjoy them as babies. Sure, they’ were cute, but so are bunnies. And they smelled good, but so does a pine tree. Bunnies, pine trees, babies, nice, but eh, I could take ’em or ‘leave ’em. I loved my daughters, but my brain registered very little reward in caring for them. Breastfeeding was fine because I never had to think about what they were going to eat that day. It was a convenience about as thrilling as a trip to 7-11. Nursing, bathing, diapering all felt like a slalom course I just had to get through. For me.
Now, other parents really relish their child’s infancy. They document all their favorite moments, of which their are a myriad. The pleasure centers of their brains rapid-fire whenever they look at their babies. Time feels to slow down whenever they are with them.
Which is how I feel about my daughters now. I love talking to them, hearing about what they did at school, helping them navigate the social world, running with them full-bore down a soccer field. I love parenting them at this stage. Love it. And I love them, just as I did when they were babies. But now I love my parenting job, too.
So, to new parents out there: I know this goes against the common discourse, but it’s ok not to love parenting a newborn. It doesn’t mean you’re a defective parent. Give it time. You and your baby may both need some time to grow.
I’ve been thinking about the Boston Marathon tragedy, especially while running. Of course, there is no sense to be made out of senseless acts. But now I feel this kinship with runners everywhere who heard about, saw, or experienced the horrific events and wondered, “Why? Why the marathon?”
I know for me, running is a way to get out of my overly-busy head and into my under-used body. As a parent, it’s my chance to be alone with my thoughts and to have my body all to myself. I get to control my route, my speed, the music in my head. When I run, there is no Caspar Babypants, no cries of “Mom! Mom!” I’m alone with the sound of my footfalls and breath, surrounded by nature and weather.
When I run a race, I think of it as this rare treat: hours to myself to do nothing but run. I have no one’s needs to attend to but my own. When I finish the race, however, that’s when the real work begins. I go back to my work as a therapist, as a mother, a spouse, a sister, a daughter. When I re-enter, I hope to go forth better than when I started the race. I hope to re-enter with greater stores of patience, empathy, compassion,, humor, and forgiveness. I have found all of these things with running, as I suspect many of the Boston runners have, too. We runners know: the finish line may represent the end of the race–but also the beginning of a much longer course.
This NPR story validates what I’ve thought all along: raising children can bring happiness–eventually. Maybe you won’t feel so happy changing diapers, doing the laundry, or cleaning the vomit out of your car after a roadtrip; however, when you step back and see the big picture, parents do find happiness in their roles. And while this particular story doesn’t address it, I can say having consulted with clients in a nursing home, when one reaches the last chapter of life, having children often produces a much happier ending, indeed.
Come join me and a small gtoup of fun, committed parents for our 3-week Positive Parenting Boot Camp starting Feb. 10 at 7:00 p.m. at Jackson Place Cohousing in Seattle. For more details or to join our group, call me at 206-356-5645 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Positively parent on!
Burned out on time-outs? Tired of yelling to get your kids’ attention (and still not getting it!)? Looking to add more effective tools to your parenting tool box? I am now offering a 3-session Positive Parenting Boot Camp. This 3-week program is designed to boost your parenting confidence, solve problem areas, and experience more happiness and joy in your personal and family life. Call me at 206 356 5645 or email lifetransitions_at_gmail.com to learn more about this unique program!