So often I struggle on facebook (and in the real world too sometimes) with friends and how they choose to share their parenting experience. I know this is a common struggle for people in the ALI community.
Here is the thing.....
I understand that pregnancy and parenting is hard work (I have spent most of my working life caring for children so I am well aware of the struggles and exhaustions) and I understand that people need to vent, they need support and they need to know what they are going through is normal.
I also understand the desire to show their pride and share the joys of parenthood. I get that granny who lives two hours away likes to coo over pictures and that it is hard to imagine why someone would not want to see baby Jane in her first bobble hat. I understand that for them little Johnny's first steps were as important as Neil Armstrong's on the moon.
However, I dislike the constant moaning on facebook. Even if I was not infertile I am not sure I would be interested in how many times in the night someone got up to feed their baby, or how shitty it's morning nappy was. Call me old fashioned, I just don't need to know. I don't need this information any more than I want to hear how much vomit my student cousin managed to produce after a crazy night on the beer or how many times my infirm aunt had to have her dressings changed after her fall. There are other times in our lives when we find something hard or something is a new experience but they are not nearly so commonly shared on facebook. Also, there are a multitude of forums out there designed specifically for mum moaning and I really wish people would stick to them.
On my other point, I have noticed that at the other end of the spectrum you have the many many photos, which I can mostly live with (and depending on the child, quite enjoy) but you also get the re-posted, banal and unoriginal platitudes, which I intensely dislike. "Like if your son has the sun shinning constantly from his bottom and every day his ares-hole lights up your life" "Like if being the mother of a daughter makes life like skipping in a field of roses and cherries" barf barf barf.
Despite appearances so far, this post is actually a positive one. I want to tell you about a friend of mine who constantly, and in my humble opinion, gets it right.
The couple in question I actually know through the husband. He is an old and dear friend of mine and did one of the readings at our wedding. He married one of the sweetest women I have ever met and I was deeply, deeply happy for them both. They both pulled a cracker.
Anyway, his lovely lady has a couple of health issues, one of which being endemetriosis and the other a condition which causes anaphalactic shock due to increased adrenalin. She was told she could be infertile and so had geared herself up to struggle, I remember her telling me her worries just after they were married. As it was they were pregnant almost immediately to everyone's relief and joy. She had a to be very careful during pregnancy and was not allowed to labour naturally but all went well and they now have a beautiful two year old child.
But to get to my point, she and her husband are so beautiful in the way that they share their parenting journey. There is no bombardment of pictures, but every now and then they share a particularly lovely one. Most often of the family all together or their child doing something particularly sweet. These are mostly candid shots. They have not once posted a moan or a parenting difficulty and when ever they talk about their child the enjoyment they have from parenting is evident.
The thing that strikes me the most is that this mother shares how grateful she is for this amazing journey, how glad she is to be parenting and how she is thankful for the little things along the way. I am not suggesting that others are not thankful and glad, or that she never struggles. But this is what she shares with her friends.
I wanted to share with you two of the things she said before Christmas:
The privilege and joy of decorating the tree with my child who understands what's happening at Christmas this year, for the first time.
Just putting a stocking full of gifts into the cot of my beautiful baby;I have never and will never take for granted how very lucky I am.
Do these two statements make me sad? Yes, they do, that make me deeply sad. Do I wish I had not read them? No, on the contrary, I am glad I have read them, I am so happy for her, and because she acknowledged how lucky she is to have the gift of a child somehow the sadness is of a different quality. It makes a difference too that these are her words and not borrowed platitudes. I want what she has so hard it hurts. It cuts. But I am so glad she is out there in the world loving her child and loving every new little miracle of life.
I suspect her health issues have made her more mindful and aware of just how precious the experience of parenting is and it makes me see that having been through infertility I may be gifted with the ability to see joys and wonders that others simply don't or are less able to focus on.
What is amusing is that this girl was not very maternal at all before her pregnancy and worried that she would not enjoy parenting. I have never seen such a change. Such a beautiful alteration in how someone sees the world. That little child is very lucky, and so am I as I can count these wonderful parents as my friends.