After joining a few parents' group on Facebook, I noticed that every now and then people would post (usually anonymously) about really hating being a mum or dad and wondering how other parents cope. It is actually quite refreshing hearing people talk about this because by golly, I struggle with being a mum myself on many days. I also know a couple of people who really actually despise being a parent and the guilt of feeling this way really bothers them.
So if you too feel you really hate being a parent, know this: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. You really are not. It is such a common feeling but no one really talks about it too openly because of the backlash they are likely to receive:
Be thankful you can actually have kids!
Being a parent is tough- suck it up!
You made them so you cannot complain!
And as for your friends posting endless gushing posts about parenthood, it could really be that they are one of those perfect specimens of parents who genuinely adore their perfect-in-every-way kids, or it could just be that they do not share the bad stuff. Newflash- not many people enjoy admitting there are moments they feel pretty crap about themselves. People only post up the perfect moments on social media. It is all "Ohmergawd look at my adorable super fashionable super happy offspring! He/she totally does NOT throw tantrums in the middle of the supermarket or smear food all over the furniture!" No one wants to show off their bad side!
Do not apologise for the way you feel
If you are struggling with being a parent, do not be afraid to admit it. It is okay and it is normal. Parenthood is really like swimming upstream…in a hurricane. It is a tough, crazy journey! Denying how you feel and keeping your negative feelings bottled up until they explode one day only makes things worse for you and everyone else in your life. Contrary to what you may think, hating or resenting parenthood does NOT actually automatically make you a bad parent. It is possible to do a good job even if you do not like your job! It is okay to admit you are human and have emotions and your own needs to look after too.
I love my kids but there are definitely days where I feel my soul is literally getting sucked out of me. I dread my husband leaving for work. I dread being alone with them. I do not feel like playing make-believe or role playing or peekaboo. I have had enough of the endless cooking, cleaning, laundry, organising activities and play dates, changing, toileting and bathing, and fighting little people to just sleep. The routine is relentless! I resent being tied down and not having time to myself or have a social life. I am sure the sleep deprivation does not help too.
There are days too that I question becoming a mother. For a period of time, I wondered if I had a time machine whether I would rewrite my history and just not have kids. But after some thought I established that even if the current me were to go back in time and tell the old me not to have kids, I probably would not listen. Because it is impossible to know just how hard raising kids is until you actually have them! So if I did not have kids, I would just be unhappy wishing I had kids. It is a bit of a catch 22 hey. Maybe I would just tell my younger self to be more financially established before having kids so that I could have a few less stressors to deal with!
I have actually had some people question why I feel the need to have time to myself (understandably usually from older folks). About this I have to say I am unapologetic. Whether you leave your kids with a babysitter for a couple hours so you can have a weekly date night or put them in daycare five days a week while you work- do not feel bad for it! Besides the fact that obviously most of us need to work to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table, on a personal level, we also need time to ourselves to be a better person, parent, and spouse/partner. We need time to breathe, rest, work on our other relationships, carve out our own lives and interests…if you just ignore your own needs, there will not be enough of you left to adequately fulfill the needs of the little people in your life! If you feel you want to be around your kids 24/7, good on you. But I do not. And I really doubt it is good for them to be around me 24/7 either.
Talk about your feelings
If you feel like this hatred and resentment is really consuming you and affecting who you are, then do seek professional help/therapy if you can afford it. Talk to a counsellor, a trusted friend or join a support group online. There are so much resources out there these days. It is so important to vocalise your feelings and just accept it as truth. Own your feelings. Live in your truth. Stop denying it. It can also be really comforting just to read the experiences and thoughts of other parents who are in the same boat and realise you are truly not alone.
Most importantly, make sure your spouse/partner knows how you feel. This can actually be quite a confronting and traumatic process for your him/her. There will be anger. There will be resentment. There will be plenty of tears. But you have to get the truth out. No matter how your spouse responds, there will be relief in you living your truth. And hopefully if you stay calm and open and communicate effectively, you will see the anger pass and your partner will come around to supporting you. Then you can both work towards rebuilding a relationship that is even stronger than before because it is based on truth and honesty.
Work on you
From personal experience, I feel that most people who hate/resent parenthood are people who are unhappy with themselves to a certain degree (I will put my own hand up for this). If you are already dissatisfied with your job or where you live or dislike the people around etc, having kids just amplifies all your issues. So try your best to work on you. I understand it can be really hard to do this when you are time poor with little kids, work, and a household to run, but you just have to make this a priority and maximise whatever little time you do get, even if it's for just half an hour at the end of the day. Because the reality is that if you do not work on you, you will never know if it is possible to be happy again, and everyone around you will suffer as well.
So try to make time to exercise, read, write, draw, sit in silence, get out, talk to a friend, revisit an old hobby…whatever it is that makes you happy and makes you feel alive. Just take baby steps and it will hopefully eventually reignite a spark. We all need to have a seperate identity away from our kids. You are not only a parent.
A lot of people feel they are trapped in marriages and jobs "for the kids" and obviously to pay the mortgage and the bills etc. At the end of the day though, there is no one putting a gun to your head. No one is making you stay in your marriage, stay in your job, stay where you are etc. It may feel like you "have to do it" but REALLY, at the end of the day, it's all a choice. There is no circumstance which CANNOT be changed. Jobs can be changed. Houses can be sold. You do not have to stay miserable in the same spot. It is just how much adjustment and initial discomfort you decide you want to go through. When you change up things around you or reveal a truth you have been hiding for so long, yes everyone will struggle initially, but then everyone will also adapt and readjust and survive.
We are in this together
To be clear- I am not trivialising depression or any other mental health disorder. I understand when you are depressed, it is a struggle just to get out of bed in the morning (I have been there). The intention of this post is just to tell you that it is normal to have negative feelings in parenthood and that you are not alone. And if you do not actually have these negative feelings, then I hope it has brought you awareness that many people do struggle with it.
Being honest and true to yourself is something I have learned a lot about in the last year. As you get older, you realise there is no point spending your life living a lie. It is true that the truth will set you free. You will feel such a weight lift off your shoulders when you are honest and open about how you feel. Admitting how you feel is the starting point to trying to figure out how you can find a way to be happy with your life and you as a parent. At the same time, I hope you can still realise your kids are innocent in all of this and that you can still be a great parent while you work on you.