Having children is the happiest time of your life. Or having children is the biggest blessing you’ll ever have. Or having children will make you a better person. Or being a father will be the best thing you will ever do.
They’re all true. All the platitudes and cliches around parenthood and fatherhood have at least some grain of truth in them. But listen to them. Isn’t that a lot of pressure to put on one change in your life? Isn’t it asking a lot of one tiny little soul?
What if it doesn’t feel that way? Everyone’s telling you you should be happy, what happens when things don’t quite live up to those high expectations?
Everything’s wonderful on that initial wave of excitement that happens on day one. No, it’s not always plain sailing – it can be quite traumatic for both Mam and/or Dad. But that wave of excitement, those voices telling you it’s the happiest day of your life, the pressure to “grow up man, it’s nothing compared to what she’s going through” all serve to undermine the normal process of dealing with our emotions. You’re traumatised? “You don’t know how lucky you are – think how much worse it is for her, and for other couples in much worse circumstances”. No wonder we ignore that little voice inside saying that something doesn’t feel right.
Move on down the road a week, two weeks, a month, a year. Then the shine really starts to wear off. Maybe it’s the tiredness you both feel. Maybe it’s the friction that puts on your relationship. Maybe it’s the pressure of a thousand tonnes coming down on you now you have to be an adult. How are you going to pay the credit card bills? How much will your utility bills go up now you’re constantly washing or drying clothes? What about all the nappies? How will you pay for them? And that’s before little one even needs solid food. Not only is the biggest blessing of your life keeping you awake at night, but now the little voice in your head is too.
The thing they don’t tell us, and this goes for both parents, is that it’s bloody hard. We judge ourselves, it’s not just society. But it IS hard. Imagine dealing with all that pressure on a full nights sleep. Factor in the lack of sleep, the pressures of work and day to day life all on top of the fact you have this little person for whom you are now entirely accountable. It isn’t going to feel like the happiest time of your life. Not for 24 hours of every day at least.
Why don’t we talk about this? As I write this there is a parent somewhere struggling. Mentally they just don’t feel able to cope. Maybe they’re just having a bad day. Maybe its more than that, it’s that pressure that’s been building for so long. We don’t feel able to talk to anyone about it. It’s like an admission that we’re not good enough maybe? It’s the pressure again that we put on ourselves to provide for our family. Maybe society plays a part too – after all this should be the happiest time of our life! Why am I not happy!?
The fact is though, it isn’t just you. We really are all in this together. Every father, every mother every parent has those same worries. That same pressure. It’s not just you. The fact we don’t talk about it makes the problem worse, we really do believe “it’s just me”. I don’t know what the solution is. There are so many reasons we don’t talk about it. Mainstream media plays its part I’m sure, I’m certain that social media does. But if you’re reading this and you’re feeling that pressure, weighing down on you, please know that you’re not alone. You’re not going to fail in your role as a parent.
Above all, your family loves you and they are truly blessed to have you. If you’re at breaking point, talk about it. It will help you, it might help someone else too. You’d be surprised how many other people are or have been where you are. It’s very hard, but keep on fighting on – it’s so worth it.