Being a parent comes with a huge amount of responsibility. I’m not just talking about the pressure to be ‘the best’ parent on earth but more so the pressure to create those wonderful memories of a childhood somewhat like your own, or for some completely the reverse of their experience.
The word childhood seems dreamy compared to the word parenthood which sounds like a responsible club I’m not sure I want to belong too! According to UNICEF (2005) “…childhood means more than just the space between birth and the attainment of adulthood. It refers to the state and condition of a child’s life, to the quality of those years”. Yikes, does this mean you better not fuck them up!
How precious childhood really is starts with the lovely old dears you meet randomly in the street who say “Oh how precious”, “What a precious time it is”, “Have lots” (clearly they forget how hard it is to raise small humans) followed by “They grow up so quick” (sometimes not quickly enough, teething goes on forever!). Childhood, is sold as idyllic, to us as pre parents! Then we arrive there at the beginning of parenthood when the nights are torturous, the days are long and those “Awww” moments are just not as often as you thought they would be.
But as parents were are aware of this sudden burden of responsibility from the outset as the anxiety about how precious tiny humans are starts with that little red book. From monitoring your humans weight to carefully detailing expected milestones which you go onto worry when will they reach? Anxious times are followed by their first jabs and the terrifying information your supplied with about all their possible side effects.
So childhood is very much about keeping them alive as it is making it a wonderful memorable experience.
But to keep up with what you think it should look like is easy right? Surely, as daily we are bombarded with television adverts, that display cereal box type families; 2.4 kids, usually white, wealthy looking, always have a nice kitchen and completely heterosexual!. We too can access Pinterest images of what wonderful crafty type activities we should/could do with our children.
But we raise them not without continual fear ,as those smart phone owning parents (such as myself-self confessed I phone mummy) know we can view news articles about terrible accidents that happen to innocent children when they were only left 5 minutes alone or around a seemingly friendly pet which turned into a killer. Then if that’s not bad enough we are reminded of how sick our children can get if we don’t stick to the governments guidelines of 5 fruit and veg a day.
It isn’t any wonder really that parenthood can be an anxious time and so much time spent on worrying whether we are creating a wondrous childhood. In doing so we neglect ourselves, and with that creeps in loneliness, possibly depression and most certainly anxiety. The reason for this more somber post, is because tonight I watched something trending on Facebook from Channel 4 for about loneliness (see below). In the clip a mum spoke about having horrendous days but using social media to show the nice bits of parenthood because she said “you can’t be seen to be struggling”.
I want to scream “Yes you can” at the computer, because we are all trying to create at least 18 years of happy, healthy and somewhat enviable memories for this assignment entitled ‘Childhood’. A few McDonald’s along the way, some boring days in front of the telly and a quick pet of a strangers dog…they will survive because somehow we did!
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