Infertility, Parenting

Being real

February 17, 2015

A few months ago, a friend made a comment that stuck with me.  I don’t remember her exact words, but something to the effect of “you make making raising twins look easy.” And I don’t want to put words in her mouth, but the feeling I got was that she felt inadequate because of it. All of this in a very light-hearted friendly way. This friend has twins…plus three other children (or more, she fosters)…and most of them have special needs. I think this woman walks on water. Sometimes when I’m having a rough parenting day, I think of her and tell myself to suck it up.

I assured her that was not the case at all. It’s been a challenge. A crazy wonderful one. One that I wholeheartedly signed on for and one that I love, but a challenge nonetheless.

I think she was probably gleaning her take on the situation from Facebook. I post cute pictures of my kids and talk about their firsts, etc.

I couldn’t shake what she said. It kept pinging something, but I couldn’t really figure out what or why. So I let it roll around in my head for several weeks.

First, I realized that I feel that exact same way about seeing others’ lives as they play out across the screen.  The moms that seem to cook every night and come up with elaborate crafts and games and take their babies everywhere. It’s the outside looking in and it’s not a full picture. I know that and try to tell myself that when my own feelings of inadequacy creep in.

And, more introspectively and importantly, I realized that I’m terrified in any way, shape or form to “complain” about my kids. But, I’ve also been afraid to talk about them in general, especially here on my website.

Life with twins is difficult sometimes, but I never feel like it’s ok to say that. So, yea, my life must look rosy on Facebook, for example, because I omit some things.  Like, that poop in the bath tub the other night. Or me flooding the kitchen trying to warm a bottle. Or me losing my mind over never-ending screaming. I haven’t really shared those things.

The other thing I thought about was how while we were expecting, several friends told me that parenting is hard and it is ok not to love every minute. I’m so thankful for them telling me that because I would have beat myself up way worse on difficult days if not for hearing their voices in my head. Maybe there are some moms that have everything figured out, have endless patience and never have a bad day…but, that’s not me. We put too much pressure on ourselves and I’m so thankful that they had the courage to be so honest.

I hate to think I might have contributed somehow to this unrealistic view of motherhood.

This will be a big shock….Wait for it….Because of infertility, I feel incredibly guilty to even hint that parenting is hard. I mean, who am I kidding? Who would think that raising twins would be easy? That’s just not realistic. Parenting IS hard.

It’s like my brother and sister-in-law told me when we were expecting, “Having kids is the most amazing thing you will ever experience and it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do.”  I think they were spot on. Kids are a beautiful package of juxtaposition.

Part of the guilt is just in general. Outside of my closest family and friends, I don’t feel like I can admit there’s anything slightly hard about having two babies. I mean, what kind of terrible person would I be if I did? I prayed for these children for eight long years and now they are here. How dare I even hint of anything less than perfect? And, how dare I be anything less than perfect?  God finally answered my plea and entrusted these two amazing children to me. I begged to become a mom. BEGGED, pleaded, bargained, prayed. And, it’s glorious and spectacular, beyond my wildest dreams.

But, I feel an immense weight to do better and be better because I wanted children so badly. One time, I thought to myself, I bet God is rethinking his decision. I’m a terrible mom. Why did I get to be mom? Oy! Thank goodness I stifled those thoughts. God doesn’t make mistakes and God didn’t want me to think that.

And, the other part of the guilt is survivor’s guilt. Infertility survivor’s guilt. Ahhh….there it is rearing its ugly head again.

I remember when I used to hear people complaining about their kids, I would think to myself, I would give anything to have their problem.

All of those comments, which were innocuous enough, were a knife straight to my heart at the time. Everything from, “Ugh. I can’t believe I can’t have a glass of wine because I’m prego” to “I’ve had it. I’m giving my kid away. Any takers?”  They were obviously joking on that last one…right?…right?

Now I’m a parent and I’m so lucky. I love being a mom. I love talking about all the amazing and wonderful things about my kids, but I want to be able to be honest about some things if I so desire.

I’ve been an open book about my life and my struggle with infertility and now I no longer seem to have a voice in some ways because I’m too guilt-ridden to use it.  Especially in this space to use it at all.  I just don’t talk about them much. What hurts worse? Seeing the magical moments of having kids or hearing someone vent about parenting? Both, but this is my website about me and my family. I have got to get over that, IF I ever have time to write and want to.

Once again, infertility can shove it. I’m done with it messing with my head.

I hereby declare that I’m giving myself permission to be real about my life and about parenting – the good and the not so good.

And, for those that are still struggling to have a child, I’m sorry. I’m sorry in general and I’m sorry if I’m the one with posts that might be a trigger for you. But, I’m just keeping it real. I just want to be a “normal” parent and I’m trying to shed as many of the hurtful layers of infertility that I can.

See ya, infertility guilt.  Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

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  • Marcie

    Don’t beat yourself up. We all go through that guilt when parenting after infertility. For me, I am parenting through adoption, and struggle with the thoughts of how my comments would make her birth parents feel if they heard/saw the comment. But parenting is hard. No one expects it not to be. ~ Keep being you… you are doing a fabulous job!

    • Whitney Anderson

      Thanks, Marcie. ♥

  • Preach on sister, so glad you’ve come to this point, it’s healthier for everyone involved. And yes, screw infertility. It keeps hurting long after we think it should. Kids are hard! I’d never wish someone could pick them up and take them away like some people joke about, but… I have said “I NEED TO GET OUT OF THIS HOUSE RIGHT NOW” and ran up to my room and cried. But I love her to pieces- it’s just tough! Vent away!

    • Whitney Anderson

      Thanks, Jessica! 🙂

  • Sarah

    I guess it depends on the position you are in! I wish I had those problems. We used to be on the same page. I am happy for you, though, that you want to be honest. Have not heard from you in a while! Hope all is well! XO

    • Sarah

      Miss you! I really am so happy for you!

    • Whitney Anderson

      Sarah, I miss you, too. We really need to catch up. BIG HUGS!

  • I love this honest post. In a slightly different way, I experienced a similar Facebook moment, when a friend messaged me and expressed jealousy over my wonderful husband and the relationship we share. I was like, “but we don’t post the uglies on Facebook — you see the sweet things and the dinners cooked together and the Valentines crafted together, but people don’t put messes up on Facebook! The crying and raised voices over Piles Gone Wild in the house, the tears of frustration, the stupid arguments every couple has.” Facebook encourages us to only paint the rosiest of pictures, and I can only imagine how that would look with babies. Actually, I don’t have to imagine, because so many of my friends post all the beautiful moments, all the time, but I’d bet there’s a fair amount of poop in the bathtub. 🙂 Combine that with infertility guilt… oy. I am not yet successful in building my family (but am more hopeful now that I am in the adoption process), but I can’t imagine that it’s okay to say, “You struggled so hard to make this child/ren happen, now you have NO RIGHT to complain as other “easy” parents do, no right to express frustration or exhaustion, because you really, really, WANTED this.” That’s just another layer of unfair to infertility. Share the uglies, it’s okay. Complain about blown out diapers and no sleep and being perpetually late getting everywhere — you’ve earned that too. I know I will! I’m glad your infertility guilt is being waved buh-bye. Make like Glinda — “Begone! You have no power here!” (easier said than done, I know.) My best to you, it’s nice to read a new post!

  • Being real is good. I felt such intense pressure when E came home to LOVE every moment. It made me feel guilty and unhappy. The guilt feeling has mostly passed by now, but I still feel the need to attach a disclaimer to any frustration: “But I’m so grateful!!!!”

    • Whitney Anderson

      Thanks, T. Yes, I totally agree with the disclaimer. I feel the same.

  • Absolutely. We’ve had a hard few parenting months lately and I feel so guilty if I complain, but damn it, parenting is HARD! I wish PAIL were still running because I do think there are issues unique to parenting after infertility that need attention and support.

    • Whitney Anderson

      Thanks, KeAnne! Yep, hard. I guess I’d be worried if I didn’t think it was hard. 🙂

  • Yes. Reminds me of this, which I need to remind myself of more often than I’d like to admit: http://www.alittlepregnant.com/alittlepregnant/2005/06/imperfectly_nor.html

  • Stopping by from the Roundup. I just wanted to say how much this post hit home for me. Unfortunately, I feel like I spend too much of my time griping about the trials of parenting (I also have twins), and not enough time being grateful for the role that I longed for as well. Thanks for so eloquently sharing what I often feel about being judged for venting the bad stuff, as well survivor’s guilt for not enjoy every moment of this parenting gig.

    • Whitney Anderson

      Petunia,

      The roundup? Anyway, thank you. 🙂 How old are your twins?

  • I am parenting through adoption and there were many days I felt like I couldn’t say anything negative about parenting because I almost never got to parent at all. One twist of circumstances and I would have come home without a child. I felt guilty as well. But guilt doesn’t serve a purpose other than to hold you back. Life was not just like it was in all the pictures on FB and Pinterest. Women do each a other a disservice when they don’t tell the truth about child rearing. It’s not like you want to whinge all day long, but you just need a little vent every now and then and someone to really hear you without judgment and to assure you that you are human. That shoulder to cry on is just what a woman needs and you may even get some practical advice you can use.

    • Whitney Anderson

      Thank you. Yea, just a little vent now and then. Or least to feel like I could if I wanted to.

  • Molly @ TheModernBelly.com

    While I don’t have kids yet, I wholly identify with this sentiment: Because of infertility, I feel incredibly guilty to even hint that parenting is hard. We work so hard towards parenthood, that even thinking about the challenges of being a parent feels wrong. Thank you for your honesty and for your willingness to say these things that I know are hard for you to say.

    • Whitney Anderson

      Thanks, Molly. Yea, I couldn’t even think about pregnancy much less parenting while dealing with infertility. Good luck to you!

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  • Risa Levine

    Love you Whitney, and yes, this made me cry. This is your place. Be honest. People can choose to read or not (I don’t always, even though I love you.) And what you fought for (and succeeded) was to be a parent, the good, the hard and the ugly. Don’t deprive yourself of all that being a parent means, including venting from time to time (just not the dreaded: “you want mine?” comments). -Risa