The public and private faces of parenting are often at odds. And even among other parents - those who likely know just what you're going through - our masks usually remain firmly in place.
A hellacious night punctuated by crying fits apparently timed to erupt just when you've fallen back asleep is benignly transformed, in its public telling, into... "kind of a hard night", and is quickly followed by anodyne reflection on how it will get better, how everything passes, how they're still your little angels.
Or maybe you do share that story in full. But you don't share that you screamed so loudly the other day that you were rolling in shame and regret for hours afterwards.
Or that in a moment of weakness you resorted to one of your own parent's signature admonishments that used to fill you with the same resentment you now see flashing across your child's face.
Actively considering psychologically complex aspects of parenting - the unremitting self-doubt, free-form anxiety, questioning your basic competency, and the occasional wish that you were childless and planning an overseas trip - is hard. Sharing those thoughts is harder still. It's private. So we go there only with our closest confidants, or ideally with the person we're raising kids with. Certainty is scarce, platitudes few, and the sheen that's applied in polite conversation is sanded away, hopefully revealing new perspective. But I imagine the lack of easy answers or even ways to identify the right questions causes a lot of parents to stay silent about the darker corners of their experience, and that's a shame.
Of course, constantly sharing the most difficult aspects of parenting is likely not good for you, the person listening to you, or your kids! But being able to open up about the most challenging aspects of your experience is a good thing. Beyond recognizing that you're not alone (you're not!), delving deeper allows for new insights that will deepen the parenting experience - and your relationship with your kids! And that's what we're after, right?
A few months ago I was approached by Shayna Nickel, who asked me to participate in her newly-created podcast, "Just A Parent Here Myself". The goal is to interview parents anonymously, in hopes that it will chip away at this veneer of public parenting. Shayna gets down to the nitty gritty, whatever that means to each of her interviewees.
Below is the interview I did with Shayna. I hope you find something useful within - or at the very least are entertained. Because I've written openly about parenting, and before that about how my husband and I managed the surrogacy process that resulted in our twin boys, I am identified in the interview.
Inward and upward!