They say parenting is the toughest job you'll ever have. THEY say that, and we listen. We listen so hard it puts tears in our eyes and often makes us second-guess reproducing at all. But we do it anyway. We do it because deep down, we want them to be wrong.There are moments in our lives that we wish we could erase; strike them from the record and start over. And even though we believe in our hearts that this kind of destroying of evidence is possible, those memories simply will not go away.
A month after my daughter was born we lost everything: Our home, our savings, and all of our self-esteem. Things happened. Lots of things; some things I would like to forget and others that have scarred me for life. So many things, in fact, that I lost count and got dizzy, which brings me to today. Our daughter is going to be eight this summer. She doesn't know about the things. She only knows that she is loved beyond her wildest dreams and she gives it all right back; like a boss.
But something has been weighing on me, heavy. And as much as I'd like to blame it on someone else, I have no one to blame but myself.
This is where I tell you that they were right. Parenting IS hard. Damn hard. You are an artist, molding a life, and every choice you make will affect who your children will become. My parents divorced when I was 11. There were no conversations, no promises of shared custody or visitation; just a quick goodbye from dad and he was off. It took along time for me to get over my father leaving; probably longer than it should have. But when I did, I vowed that if I ever had kids (and a troubled marriage), I would do my very best to 'work it out.'
The other day I realized something: That by staying in a place that repeatedly goes nowhere and enabling bad behavior, I've done nothing but send all the wrong messages to my daughter. Instead of teaching her how to love, I have taught her to withhold.
Instead of showing her kindness, I have displayed anger. And instead of preparing her for a lifetime of wedded bliss, I have let her come to accept that it is normal for your husband to sleep on the couch while you weep alone. On top of everything else, I have encouraged her to believe that staying in an unhappy marriage is perfectly acceptable; as long as you have kids.
I wish I could end this on a high note, but my story isn't over yet. There are still empty pages to fill, options to weigh and edits to be made. But the longer I sit here with my worn out and poignant pen, the more my story seems to write itself.
And I know that I'm not alone. Parenting is tough; this much is true. Marriage, on the other hand, is a killer. It takes every ounce of the person you yearn to be to keep from being the one you have become; toss a baby into the mix, and you end up getting lost in your own despair.
Maybe the toughest job isn't parenting, maybe it is making choices that are best for everyone—including you. The choice is yours; perhaps it is time to simplify.