In my opinion the word ‘parent’ should be replaced with the word ‘overwhelmed’. As in “congratulations on becoming newly overwhelmed”! Or “you are so good at being an overwhelmed person.” Or “being overwhelmed is hard at times but so rewarding and it gets even better over time” (this one is my personal non-favourite thing that people tell new parents). The proper definition of the word overwhelmed is as follow ‘Bury or drown beneath a huge mass. Defeat completely’. I can honestly say that as parents my husband and I have not only been emotionally defeated but also quite literally drowned beneath a huge mass of pooh and snot.
When I think back over my life as an ‘overwhelmed one’ aka parent there are moments of super overwhelmed-ness that stand out. I remember the feeling of total defeat and utter sadness when our first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. A few months later when we found out we were pregnant with Kai the HCG count was so low that the sister who was supposed to deliver the results did not even want to tell me I am pregnant. She insinuated that it would probably end in another miscarriage. I drove home praying out loud, pleading, negotiating, begging for this little cell to duplicate enough to become a heartbeat, enough for it to become a little foetus with fingers and toes. And when it did I felt overwhelmed with a mixture of happiness and angst.
Ordinary days of raising little people can be overwhelming in their beauty; mornings with VH1 blaring on the TV and wild dancing with the kids, belly laughter and my husband’s ample chest hair and the family pets all in the mix. Then there are moments where the fear can overwhelm you; little people being hospitalised, a bad fall, unnamed hidden fears of car accidents and falling down a flight of stairs or contracting some chronic illness. As a parent there is a lot to be scared of….
If we are honest though, we would not want it any other way. It is so precious because it is so overwhelming. I am reminded of a quote in one of my favourite books and would like to share it with you. It is from ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ by Milan Kundera:
“But is heaviness truly deplorable and lightness splendid? The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. But in the love poetry of every age, the woman longs to be weighed down by the man’s body. The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life’s most intense fulfilment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become.”
I see parenting to be one moer of an exhausting marathon that you run in a sleep deprived state. And sometimes you stare down at your feet and try to just get up the next hill, but at other times you become aware of the view, you feel exhilarated, happy, and proud. You listen to a happy soundtrack (frequently interrupted by a screeching tantrum) but you smile at every milestone. It is heavy, but so light.