There are greeting cards that congratulate new parents and parents-to-be on their growing families. So it makes sense that there should also be cards that acknowledge breast pumping, sleep deprivation and the other trials of raising children.
This week, greeting card designer Emily McDowell launched a new line of “Parenting Support” cards. The line features cards with messages like “You’re not a monster. Parenting is really hard” and “Hang in there, you’re doing great.”
”Parenting is really hard, and yet it’s frowned upon to publicly admit anything about it that could be perceived as negative, because of the fear that we’ll be judged as not loving our children enough, or pegged as a ‘bad mom,’” McDowell told The Huffington Post
“There’s a well-worn set of cultural expectations about how parents are supposed to feel about the experience of parenting, and women in particular get hammered with it, both from other people and within ourselves,” she added. “When reality doesn’t live up to those expectations, we end up with tremendous guilt and shame, and secretly concluding that ‘there must be something wrong with me’ ― which of course isn’t true.”
McDowell is a stepparent to an 11-year-old boy and also has two very young godsons. She told HuffPost her godsons’ mother has been her best friend for 25 years and served as “unofficial consultant” for her “Parenting Support” cards.
The designer said she wants her cards to have an impact on people in the throes of parenting.
“I hope parents who receive these cards (or even see them!) can feel a sense of relief and reassurance that they’re not failing, they’re not alone, and it’s totally normal and OK to both love your kid and have complicated feelings about being a mom or dad,” McDowell explained.
”Someone commented on my Instagram last week that she’d bought herself a whole set of our Empathy Cards (for serious illness and loss), not to send out, but to keep and look at when she wanted to feel understood,” she added. “I hope these can serve a similar purpose for parents.”
McDowell has three “Parenting Support” cards available on her website and is currently in the process of creating more. The next batch will focus on the way your relationship with your partner changes after having kids, issues of identity struggles and finding humor in parenting situations, from caring for infants to raising teenagers.
Said McDowell, “This is a hugely broad topic, and I’m really looking forward to finding different ways to look at it.”