Posts

10 Dark Parenting Truths We Never Talk About

Two newly expectant parents recently asked my husband and me for advice about becoming parents. At first, we spoke to some of the lighter, more common truths about having babies—the sleepless hours, the blowout diapers, the potential relinquishing of one’s hours to rocking, holding, changing, cleaning, worrying, wearing pajamas, eating takeout and watching binge-worthy TV. (This last part isn’t so bad, so long as the baby isn’t wailing.)

For some reason—maybe because I love these two soon-to-be-parents, maybe because I was feeling especially reflective at that moment—I went deep, and fast, to some of the darker truths about raising children. I dove straight toward parenting’s ugly underbelly. To my surprise, instead of expressing fear and disgust, these two people thanked me for being so honest about these lesser-known realities of parenting.

And so I thought, perhaps my own dark parenting truths are ones that everyone should know.

1. You might regret becoming a parent

Few parents have the audacity or cruelty to admit this regret to their children, let alone speak these feelings out loud.

But I’d bet that many of us have felt fleeting tinges of regret. Those times when we’ve locked ourselves in the bathroom to cry. Those canceled plans and forgotten dreams. Those moments when we’ve wondered why the hell we wanted to commit to this whole child-rearing business in the first place.

2. You might like children less after you have children of your own

Once, in a college class discussion, I toyed with the idea of letting children run the world. They could make all our rules and solve all our problems, I thought, because they had a far better capacity for innocence and perfection and infinite love than adults did.

My professor then asked me, “Haven’t you ever read ‘Lord of the Flies’?”

She had a point.

It’s easy to cling to the myth of the innocence and perfection of childhood before you are a constant caretaker of children. My years of babysitting as a teenager and young adult did not prepare me for what I would discover as a parent. These days, I know that children are neither innocent nor perfect. They are, perhaps, less flawed than adults. But they are still fundamentally flawed.

For the most part, I only want to be around the flaws—the snot, the whining, the capriciousness, the meltdowns, the jealousy—of my own children, and maybe a few select others. All the rest can just stay home. Or at least stay only for a very, very short playdate.

3. You might lose friends

Parenthood disassembles and reconfigures your life in a way that few other events or experiences can.

Like puzzle pieces, some friends still fit after that initial reconfiguration. Some don’t fit until much later, far beyond those early chaotic years. Others never quite find their way back into your life.

Becoming a parent has fashioned both a mirror and a magnifying glass in front of me.

4. You might give up pieces of yourself that you once loved

No one has it all. No mother. No father. No person. All of life involves sacrifice, and parenting always demands its share of it.

It’s like those friends who stay, or return, or never come back at all. Some dreams and passions and loves stay even after the babies are born. Some return. Others don’t.

5. You might find parenting unfulfilling

In fact, I would argue that parenting is not completely fulfilling for anyone—nor should it be. Our children’s lives cannot and should not consume our own (much as they might devour our time and attention). Our children are not and should not be viewed as extensions of ourselves.

Parenting can fill one with love and wonder and joy. But it cannot take the place of all the other possible loves and wonders and joys in the world.

6. You might one day feel as if your child is a stranger

It might be that first time they utter, “I hate you.” The moments when they disappoint you. The realization that they have gone off and developed friends of their own, interests of their own, ideas of their own. Sometimes the strangeness is quite beautiful. Other times, it’s frightening.

7. You might face hard, impossible truths about your own parents

Becoming a parent has fashioned both a mirror and a magnifying glass in front of me. I can see in sharper focus all the mistakes that my own parents made when I was a child. But I can also see myself making some of those same mistakes, and new mistakes of my own, now that I am a parent.

My heart breaks when my children walk out the door without me.

8. You might understand, for the first time, horrific things

A new mother once confided in me that she never understood how people could shake babies until she had a crying, inconsolable baby of her own.

I never understood what she meant until, years later, when I had a baby of my own. Red-stippled eyes, leaking breasts, my own tears like tributaries feeding into a river of my newborn’s snot and saliva. I felt the urge to throw things, to scream, and, yes, to shake.

As I set my baby down in his crib and cried my way out into the hallway, I thought of parents who had less support, less security. Less of an ability to stop, set the baby down and walk away.

“There but for the grace of God go I,” I thought.

9. You might feel true, blinding rage toward your flesh and blood

Audre Lorde once described motherhood as the “suffering of ambivalence: the murderous alternation between bitter resentment and raw edged nerves, and blissful gratification and tenderness.”

I feel this ambivalence nearly every day of my life.

10. Your heart might break, every day, forever

My heart breaks when my children walk out the door without me. It breaks when I think of all I cannot protect them from. It breaks when I consider how I would be destroyed if I were to lose them.

My heart breaks with love for them. And it’s a different, darker, deeper, more flawed and more broken love than I ever imagined before I had children.

https://mom.me/baby/26774-10-darker-parenting-truths-every-person-should-know/

How To Get Your Sex Life Back On Track After Having A Kid

Kids chuck a frag grenade at many parts of your life, but it doesn’t have to ruin your sexlife. A new baby too often causes a sexual dry spell for the parents that extends beyond the months it takes to recover from birth — in some cases, it can go years. This is the product of a new family struggling to find a new normal, focusing too much energy on the kid, and forgetting the couple who created the kid. Or, more to the point, the coupling that created the kid.

A family forces you to focus your resources that once went toward the couple — time, money, energy, hours in bed — toward the family’s newest member. Your supply of resources stays the same, but demand just increased by a factor of screaming human libido killer. “We now want a balance between me, us, and family,” says Esther Perel. “Those were not tensions that existed before.”

You probably remember Perel from her wildly popular TED talks on maintaining desire in long-term relationships or how a couple can survive an affair, so you already know she knows this topic better than most. Unless you’re one of those annoying couples whose sex life actually improved after having kids, read on …Redefine “Sex”
Contrary to popular opinion, the hokey pokey is not what it’s all about. “You can do the act in 5 minutes, done, and it has zero effect on you,” Perel says. She’s talking more about “the erotic presence — the feeling of connection, pleasure, aliveness, vibrancy.” Loss of erotic presence in a relationship is the reason sex stops, so focus on fixing the cause not its effect. “If people had a less narrow definition of what sex is, there would be an ability to feel much more sexually connected after having kids,” she says.

“If people had a less narrow definition of what sex is, there would be an ability to feel much more sexually connected after having kids,”

Learn The Erotic Ingredients And “Eros Redirected”
This may be the most important sentence you ever read: The erotic ingredients are playfulness, novelty, looks, curiosity, and touch. Perel points out that every one of these things are at risk of being entirely redirected toward your kid if you’re not careful. There’s even a fancy term for it: “eros redirected.”

For Perel, the core of the issue in any couple where the sex life has faltered post-kid is that all the energy that once went toward the erotic ingredients in your relationship go to the kid. Here’s how she puts it (and try not to wince if it sounds too familiar):

“Playfulness: You have loads of playfulness, but it’s all with the kids. Novelty: I see you constantly looking for new experiences with your children but you do the same old, same old [with your partner]. Looks: I see your kids walking around in the latest fashion, and I see you in your old schmattes. Curiosity: I see you being curious about anything your child is doing, but when was the last time you gazed at each other? Touch: I see you often living on a diet of quick pecks, and I see your children experience languid hugs and affectionate everything.”


Break Your Routine And Plan Together
Undoing eros redirected is in some ways as simple as behaving toward your partner the way you behaved before the kid was born. “When people meet and are in love, they live face to face. When people have children, they create this whole enterprise, and they live side by side. What they need are moments of turning their bodies back to each other in face to face situation.” That means date nights, complete with touching, playing, and all those other ingredients.

Among Perel’s clients, there are couples who hire a babysitter to attend Burning Man and couples who haven’t left the house in 4 years. Guess which ones have better sex lives. You don’t have to drop peyote in the desert to appreciate a novel couple’s activity, but you do need to occasionally break the schedule that parenting has forced you into by planning together. “The reason everybody talks about planning dates and all of that is because it’s not just about putting it in the calendar,” She says. “It’s about assigning value. It says it’s important.”

[ted http://www.ted.com/talks/esther_perel_the_secret_to_desire_in_a_long_term_relationship?language=en expand=1] Whether it’s a date night or an annual couple’s vacation separate from the child, which Perel also recommends, plan together. For many couples, she finds it helps if one person is responsible for the adult end of the planning (date nights, researching vacations, booking reservations, etc.), while the other focuses on the kid’s end (reserving babysitters, packing overnight bags for the grandparent’s house, etc.).

Divide, conquer, and turn “eros redirected” into “eros directed,” with the direction being straight to … well … use your imagination.

https://www.fatherly.com/parenting-and-relationships/how-to-get-your-sex-life-back-on-track-after-having-a-kid/