Before I had kids, I remember there were certain parents I would see and I would just wonder how they did it. Maybe they had a bunch of kids close in age or multiples or a kid with special needs, but I would just marvel at them, their skill, their smiles, but I never understood their struggle, not really.
I mean, I’m a great empathizer. I’m in social work for a reason; I care deeply about others and try my best to alleviate their challenges in whatever way I can, but I never presume to know what something is like, I’m always very aware of how we all see the world differently.
Then I had a couple of crazy years with the kids and my story flipped upside down. I’m not lamenting anything, my kids are pretty awesome, but it’s never really easy.
When meeting others, or even just sharing brief moments in time with strangers, I’m met with one of two responses; I don’t know how you do it or I totally get you.
But here’s the thing, you don’t get me. You don’t know my story. You see me and maybe assume things. Maybe you’ve correctly figured out I’m a single mum or that, yes, those are twins with an older brother close in age. But, chances are you haven’t seen the scars from the girls’ pregnancy, their journey into life, wrapped around me like invisible thorns, occasionally pressing in harder than expected. You probably can’t tell Ella has cerebral palsy and hydrocephalus until maybe you see me struggling to get her out of a swing or high chair, or maybe that she’s not walking when her siblings are. Can you tell how much I struggle with working and being away from the kids? How I sometimes envy those couples walking by hand in hand with a brood of smiling children? That there is a smile, but behind it loneliness and sadness and disappointment with how some things are?
Of course not, because you don’t know my story, just as I don’t know yours. Let’s not pretend to. Instead, let’s appreciate each other’s unique take on this thing called parenthood, and remind ourselves that no matter the struggle, we are our own harshest critics, and there are more pages to still be written if we allow it.