Zetus lapetus, online parents are the biggest martyrs. Note, I did not say “parents.” I know plenty of parents in real life who give realistic and not wholly negative portrayals of their day-to-day life, but online parents seem to be a different breed. Article after article exists about how hard everything is, regardless of all of the modern-day conveniences available to us, such as curbside pickup and online ordering. You can double the negativity for parents of multiples to the extent that I’m not even sure how they have time to write these woeful tales if they’re sooooo swamped and stressed out.
In all fairness, this is not a new phenomenon, so much as a a readaptation of an old one. Since college, I’ve noticed the competition to see who’s busier and more stressed. While I was going through a divorce, working two jobs, and starting grad school, I was also reading about my former French professor’s struggles of teaching and taking her kids to frigging cotillion and still making time for yoga and her latest cleanse. The competition wore me out then and it wears me out now. Yes, the biggest offenders have always seemed to be mothers, constantly comparing the stress of being the SAHM of one child, married to a wealthy oil man, to my generic spaghetti rings and 15 minute leg shaves between jobs, before ultimately staying up until 3:00 a.m. to finish a paper for my MLIS. Everyone struggles and if you have the ability to complain online, you do not qualify for the medal for struggling the most and neither do I! We live in an extraordinarily privileged society and all we do is complain and compare!
I get it. People need to vent and the internet seems to be the primary outlet, but does it have to be the sole commentary and forever a contest? Why are women always competing over who has it hardest?!?! I haven’t even had my babies yet and I’m so tired of all of the warnings from parents (mostly moms) about how difficult my life is going to be, because they have kids and they know, most of which are limited to online, because I can’t leave my house until I get the vaccine. Thanks for the tip, Microsoft Clippy, but I’m not an idiot and I don’t expect any of this to be fun for a long time. Having two newborns at the same time is undoubtedly going to be exhausting and expensive and stressful, but I get to have babies and there is no way that that will be more emotionally, physically, or financially draining than back-to-back rounds of IVF during a fucking pandemic… and if I’m wrong, what is the point of talking about it?!?! Maybe taking care of two newborns will be harder than spending days in bed imagining a life with no children, somehow scraping together thirty thousand dollars to try, or leaving work early to get progesterone shots in the ass every day for ten weeks, knowing it might all be for nothing. If that’s the case, maybe some words of encouragement and positivity might be more helpful than warnings and horror stories.
Quite frankly, if you got to have the children who are giving you such headaches, in the free and fun way, I really don’t want to hear about how tough it will be, because you can’t tell me how it compares to what Jake and I went through to get pregnant. You can’t imagine seeing your husband, who hasn’t cried since his senior year, get misty-eyed when he tells you there might never be babies. You can’t recall putting up the Christmas tree and picturing all the years of watching other people’s children open gifts, while you have none of your own. You can’t fathom a future without sick babies. bed time fights, disastrous family vacations, weird Halloween costumes no one understands, talks about dealing with bullies, sitting through those horrible class plays and concerts, and hearing your child say they hate you for the first time. No one realizes that couples going through infertility aren’t just thinking about all the good things they might miss, but the bad stuff, too. It’s every possible parenting scenario that’s made us cry, because we might never have it. Maybe that’s why, of the surprising number of couples who’ve struggled with infertility that I know, I’ve not heard a single pessimistic comment and the rest usually shut their traps, when I respond with “Better than no babies” I’ve had enough negativity around this pregnancy and I’d really like it if everyone would disperse from the line to say “I told you so” that seems to form around every new mom.