Parenthood is no fairy tale
I remember the pure joy I felt at the oxytocin-infused births of our children and how this often segued into a depression induced by sleeplessness.
Once out of the nappies and dummy phase, I could no longer blame life's disappointments on sleepless nights, and was left wondering how I had been duped into believing procreating is a blissful necessity.
As any mother or father knows, nobody can prepare you for the mysteries of parenthood.
When I was still filled with those early love hormones and expecting my third child, I was delighted. What a wonder for my first child, a girl , to have a sister. And, oh, it was such sweetness. While the baby could be shunted about, the bond was glowing .
Four years on, with more developed and stronger personalities, the friendship is not smooth.
In fact, it's downright awful, giving me sleepless nights again. In a story dictated to her grandmother, and one I can quote from (because she doesn't yet read), my youngest daughter says: "This is a story of a family. They all lived in the same house. They were a lovely family. My sister is always mean to me. My brother is also mean to me. They are mean to me because they think I am ugly but I am beautiful."
I checked myself into a therapy session. Her father thinks she will survive. She's tough, he says. I take comfort from Jessica Valenti. Valenti, of Feministing.com fame, has just published her third book, Why Have Kids?A New Mom Explores the Truth About Parenting and Happiness.
I haven't read it, so I have to take what Jesse Ellison on The Daily Beast says as a true reflection of its content. Ellison writes: "Valenti aims to turn [her] critical eye towards motherhood, exploring the reality that being a parent is often more nuanced - with less joy, and more ambivalence - than society would have us believe ..."
I suppose it takes a lifetime to learn that our stories are far more complex than those happy-ever-after fairytales we grew up believing. Valenti's conclusion, writes Ellison, is: "The truth about parenting is that the reality of our lives needs to be enough."