Which would you throw out with the bathwater: baby or spouse?
One of the parenting blogs I like to read, Dooce, by Heather Armstrong, asks a question to mothers out there in a recent post. Is parenthood (presumably the baby part) harder, or is marriage?
I'm surprised how many people in her comments said marriage! I have a hard time understanding how communicating with a fellow adult who can speak full English sentences and has made a conscious agreement to commit his/her life to you can be harder than dealing with someone who screams their needs most of the time, has no idea who, what or where they are, and poops in their pants, to boot.
Before I had a baby I might have (foolishly) thought that marriage was harder, but now I look back at the most challenging times in my marriage (which are luckily few) with envy--they look like paradise compared to the hardest times as a parent so far.
I still am convinced that many, many parents, especially mothers, fear speaking the truth about how hard it is for fear of looking like a bad parent, as if CPS is going to turn up on your doorstep simply because you admit you--gasp--lose your patience with your child and yell, or for appearing ungrateful. Mothers are especially pressured to appear as if we never so much as think a bad thought about our children.
When I was pregnant, nobody told me about the difficult times ahead--I guess they didn't want to break the magic spell of pregnancy, that time of beautiful ignorance. The only thing that anyone told me about was the sleep deprivation, and even that was downplayed to suggest I might be just a little bit tired, as if I'd stayed up late reading. I didn't fully understand how serious SD was, that I would feel trapped in an eerie fog, stuttering (literally--I stuttered for 2 weeks after giving birth), stumbling and grasping at reality between feedings, while my husband hovered over spoon-feeding me like an invalid. It was only recently that one friend pointed out to me: even the Geneva Convention does not support sleep deprivation as a form of torture because it's TOO CRUEL :)
Still, maybe I'm luckier in my marriage than some, or maybe I just find it more challenging to be responsible for a human life than to express my feelings to my partner.