One of the most common, and most rubbish pieces of advice doled out to parents is to “enjoy every moment, it passes so fast.” That last part is right – and if you want to talk about how I feel about my son starting school, you’d better have some wine, tissues, and a few hours to spare to hear me sobbing about how quickly my baby has grown up.
But enjoy every moment? Bullshit, mate. Enjoy the application of hemorrhoid cream, nipple balm and vitamins that supplement the life your child is literally sucking out of you? Enjoy fighting with your partner because you’re too tired and too resentful of them to have any kind of relationship? Enjoy sobbing in the shower because you’re just so done? Enjoy smiling politely through a conversation knowing that you’ve just wet your pants because childbirth ripped your pelvic floor to shreds? Enjoy stacking the same goddamn blocks every day because that’s what makes your child happy? Bullshit, mate.
Here’s some better advice: enjoy some of the moments. Enjoy the moments that you enjoy – and just know that the shit moments will pass.
Nothing in this world is every completely wonderful – the jobs we fought for have hard days and challenging clients or bosses. We fight with our partners who we love more than anyone else. Our families drive us mad. Our bodies betray us. Even the two best things in the world – sex and pizza – can disappoint us. I mean why isn’t extra cheese the default?!
“Everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience. Any attempt to escape the negative, to avoid it or quash it or silence it, only backfires. The avoidance of suffering is a form of suffering. The avoidance of struggle is a struggle. The denial of failure is a failure. Hiding what is shameful is itself a form of shame…
Denying negative emotions leads to experiencing deeper and more prolonged negative emotions and to emotional dysfunction. Constant positivity is a form of avoidance, not a valid solution to life’s problems—problems which, by the way, if you’re choosing the right values and metrics, should be invigorating you and motivating you.”
– Mark Manson, my new guru-boyfriend in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
Andrew (my actual husband-boyfriend) insisted I read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, after yet another night of listening to me lament on the futility of my life, but not actually know what it is I wanted, or expected. I always assumed that with time, I would simply grow into the successful life I’d dreamed about as a young girl, but year after year, that seems further and further away. And who knows what that dream life is, anyway? Not this writer! The result is the constant feeling that I am not good enough, my life and my achievements are not good enough; while misery and anxiety rob me of enjoying what is objectively, living the fucking dream.
Mark (guru-boyfriend) argues that anxiety should be embraced – obviously I’m not advocating dropping your mental health care plan just yet, I am after all, a lover of a good pharmaceutical. I am however, going to try and embrace all of it – the joy, the achievements, the love and warmth, but also (or especially) the tears, the fears, the fights and heartbreak, because, well, that’s just how life is.