Being a parent is great/shit [delete as applicable]

My friend Squander Two is unhappy about parental negativity.

If someone is about to go on holiday and looking forward to it, telling them it’s going to be shit is considered rude. Telling children that Father Christmas does not exist — especially in December — is the mark of a true bastard. And telling people how The Sixth Sense ends is enough to get you rejected from polite society and roundly slapped.

Yet for some reason it is not only considered OK but is in fact the norm to tell expectant parents that having a child is going to be utter hell.

It’s a good point, but what he’s describing is quite the opposite of my own experience: with the exception of one individual, who appeared to take great pleasure in the thought of the many privations I’d soon endure, I didn’t hear how hard it was going to be, how painful it’d be for my wife, the effect it’d have on my life and so on.

All I heard before becoming a dad was how easy, rewarding and downright delightful parenthood is, and how I would spend my days skipping around like a freckle-faced child in a meadow made of gingerbread and giggles.

Which, of course, is how I generally spend my days anyway.

19 thoughts on “Being a parent is great/shit [delete as applicable]

  1. Rhian says:

    The main thing I remember being told is you telling me to sleep while I still could before the birth. Given that Harry has always slept appallingly, that was very good advice.

  2. gary says:

    “sod the hoovering” was a useful one I remember being told. Child is asleep? Hoovering is not the best use of this time!

  3. Squander Two says:

    It’s not just what other parents tell you, though; it’s the background noise of the prevailing culture, which is why I mentioned my niece: she’s not being told that childbirth is debilitatingly painful by parents giving her helpful life advice because she’s expecting. She’s eight. I think the point I was trying to make — and, now I think about it, failed to make — is that it’s not about what people tell you once you or your wife are already pregnant or at least you’ve been married a while and are probably considering it; it’s what people say before that stage. Once you’re actually expecting, people are a lot more positive, but I suspect a lot of people never reach that stage — and so miss out on something they might enjoy — because they’re put off by the popular emphasising of pain and sacrifice.

  4. gary says:

    Ah, I didn’t really pick up on that. Do you think the emphasis on pain is partly “holy crap, I survived that!” and partly “DO NOT HAVE SEX EVER” moral guidance?

  5. McGazz says:

    I’m willing to bet that the same folk who take great delight in telling prospective parents horror stories about what’s in store are the same people who tell confirmed non-spawners like me just how much I’m missing out by not contributing to the global glut of humans and that they consider their sleepless nights and permanent skintness their most treasured memories.

    Some people are just dicks about stuff, innit.

  6. Anonymous says:

    “I suspect a lot of people never reach that stage — … — because they’re put off by the popular emphasising of pain and sacrifice.”

    You’re not wrong. Also, being repeatedly told “if you’ve any brains at all you won’t have any” at regular intervals while growing up tends to put you off as well. And by the time you realise you shouldn’t be listening to any of that, in many cases it’s too late.

  7. Hunnymonster says:

    What I remember from pre-parent days is that everyone told my better half how it was going to be for *her*, nobody mentioned to me the trauma of an emergency C-section where in the bed with your dearly beloved and imminent offspring is removed from the delivery room and off down the corridor at a jog like the opening titles of Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life”.

    Mind you nobody gave the boss the chat on how she should act whilst the C-section was in progress… “I think I might be pregnant” was one of her lines, to which the theatre “sister” (a bearded Geordie bloke called Dave) said “aye pet, but not for long”.

    She also asked for liposuction while they had her there.

    When I got chucked out, one of the porters sold me a couple of crates of very cheap French beer and when I found the car had been clamped (ineptly enough that I could remove it and hand it in as “lost property”) he made it “go away” too.

    Whenever one of my (male) friends announces impending parenthood, I feel it’s my duty to relate the story to them so they’re better prepared than I was.

    Since then, I just roll with the punches :) (Mostly to the wallet).

  8. Squander Two says:

    You know what gets me about the caesarian? They take the mother away to prep her and tell you they’ll come get you in twenty minutes. And then they come get you forty minutes later, which means twenty very long minutes of thinking everything’s gone wrong and they’re all dead.

  9. Squander Two says:

    I think it’s self-absorption. People don’t stop and think before opening their mouths for the two seconds necessary to realise they’re trying to give an eight-year-old nightmares in order to stop her ever having a family. Me me me me me me me me me.

  10. hunnymonster says:

    Whilst we’re having a collective man-bitch here… did any of you fellas get grief from the grandparents about being unavailable the next day? (you know when you got out of the hospital at 3am following a delivery at 0143, rang them as instructed to deliver the news that they were grandparents, went home, had about 3 hours kip and then back into the incommunicado hospital)…

  11. rutty says:

    I don’t know if you’ve seen this Gary but I’ve seen a spammy link in your RSS feed (inserted at the end in Greek or Russian):

    Which, of course, is how I generally spend my days anyway.Православни икони

    (also being a dad is better than anything) :)

  12. Squander Two says:

    No, but my father theatened to take me to court over lack of access to my daughter because, although he had an open invitation, he didn’t feel like visiting Northern Ireland.

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