I am an optimist. I love looking at things positively even when everything is going wrong. Oh, I get sad, angry, and frustrated just like other people, but when I do I try to stop, and pull out my rose-colored glasses for the occasion. I am not talking about the ones that serve as blinders to the harsh reality of whatever situation I may be in. I am speaking of the ones that allow me to see through the doom and gloom clouds that keep me from seeing past my problems. I worked to develop this habit after a long stretch of time in which I felt like I would never get through the hardships I was under. Call it a self-defense mechanism against depression. I just do not like to be unhappy.
I brought up the topic of looking at things positively because I recently discovered a blog on a parenting website that talked about how awful parenting was for them when their children were infants. (click here if you wish to see it yourself) The article itself did not bother me, because, remembering back to when my mom was still having kids, dealing with newborn babies can be very difficult and stressful. This parent obviously was trying to add a little humor into the lives of struggling parents, and I can appreciate that. It was the comments that I had a hard time with. I would say about 90% of them were centered on how horrible babies were when they are first born, and some even went as far as to say how much they hate parenting beyond that.
Case in point:
“It’s awful. Don’t even think for a moment that your life will resume. It won’t. The newborn/infant stage is a short time, yes, but it is not a pleasant one and it definitely isn’t a happy one. You won’t sleep. You won’t be able to think or do anything because you have to stop every three hours to feed the baby. Then clean it. Then hopefully it will sleep. It’s awful. An absolute nightmare. Just get that through your head, drop any kind of happy, rainbow and ponies expectations and brace yourself for about 12 weeks of hell. Those 12 weeks were so awful for me that it served as a deterrent for having any more kids. I am tying my tubes next week. Good luck.” (Lili)
Okay, now I know plenty of parents who have had to deal with colicky babies, or with other things that make life extremely difficult. I know there is post-partum depression, and other things like that. I have seen it. It is not fun, but honestly, I have also spoken to those same women and they have told me of the joys they have because of the memories of those times with their kids. One of my aunts had her youngest son extremely premature, and had to deal with the possibility of losing him. I heard her talk about the close calls, the many doctors visits, the extra care it took just to keep him alive for months. Also, premature babies do not reach milestones as fast because they need more time to finish developing mentally and physically since they are no longer able to in the womb. However, I also heard her talk of the miracles, the small blessings, the happiness she and the rest of her family felt because of their experiences.
The difference between my aunt and some of the women who were complaining on that blog is attitude. If you go looking for things to complain about, you will not have to look far, especially when it comes to parenting. When I spoke to my mom about her experiences parenting, she told me not to expect things to become easy at any point in time. Kids are born through hard labor and things only get more difficult from there. She also told me that the things that are worth most in this life are often the most difficult. Marriage is difficult. Parenting is difficult. Being faithful to God is difficult. Does that mean I should give those things up (because so far my mom has been right about all of it being difficult…), or should I look past the here and now and see the rewards at the end of all the hardship?
The fact is, happiness is a choice for most people. I understand that there are some mental and physical illnesses that make it hard to just choose to be happy, and that is fine. That is what a support group is for, what modern medicine and counseling are for, and what God and the Savior are for. For the rest of us, it is not outside the realm of possibility to choose to have a positive outlook. There are hidden blessings in everything.
It is possible that I may get on my blog in a few weeks and rant about how horrible having a newborn is. I could completely change my mind about how good it is to be blessed with a baby… but I doubt it. Don’t get me wrong, I fully anticipate being mind-numbingly exhausted, and possibly slap happy and ready to go on vacation without a screaming baby to worry about. That is, ready to go on vacation if I was not concerned about leaving my child behind. I want to be the one to be there to soothe my son, to be the one who cares for him, and dries his tears even when I am ready to drop from exhaustion. I want to be there for him because at the end of the day, aside from the fact that I love him, I know he is a gift from God and that I am the one He will hold responsible for my little boy. Bearing and raising children is a blessing and a sacred trust given directly to us from our Heavenly Father. He understands how difficult the task is. He is the heavenly parent of all of us after all. Perhaps giving us the opportunity to parent ourselves was meant to give us a greater perspective on how God feels sometimes. Perhaps it is meant to bring us closer to Him, and help us become more Godly.
I sincerely hope I am able to keep a heavenly perspective while I struggle through the new, well… new for me, experience of parenthood. I hope I can keep those figurative rose-colored glasses close by for the times when I feel tired, angry, frustrated, or sad so I can remind myself that the hard times are not forever.
Speaking of parenting, my little boy was due on the 24th… three days ago. In other words, I am about ready to pop. I am not sure when I will be able to get on to write my next post, but I will do my best. In the mean time, God bless.
(Note: I have run into complaining parents everywhere. I do understand the need to vent sometimes, because I need it as well. I just noticed that some people chronically complain about parenting and cannot seem to find a reason to be happy while they have kids.)