No lie, parenting is the hardest thing I've ever done, the thing that I have invested more of my heart in than anything else, and the thing I seem to get the most "constructive" feedback from others on.
It's tough because parenting is such a "voodoo science", as my friend M likes to say.
For every article out there that gives you guidance on how to raise a child, there is an opposite and equally well defended article that says the exact opposite.
Do you medicate for teething, or do you not medicate? Do you punish by spanking, by time out, or do you not to punish at all? Do you cosleep, or do you move them to their own bed right away? Do you sleep train, and if you decide to, how do you go about it? Do you let them cry until exhaustion or do you soothe as soon as they peep? Do you have them at home, or do you have them at the hospital? Do you go with a midwife, a doula, a doctor, or some combination of the three? Do you go with day care (and if so, how the hell do you pick a good one) or do you make the sacrifice and stay home full time? And if you have nursing issues, or allergy issues, or acid reflux, or dietary constraints (religious or otherwise), how the hell do you address those?
If you have a boy, do you circumcise him? Did you know that every year in America, hundreds of little boys die from circumcisions? And that you are removing over 70,000 nerve endings (and thus, a TON of sensation) if you do? But if you don't, will the other kids laugh at him?
And holy hell, don't get me started on the name… which everyone will judge your kid on long before they actually meet it, and everyone has an opinion on.
And these, these are just a sampling of the issues you are faced with in the first year alone. After that is when things actually get tricky. Then you're dealing with issues like potty training, shifting nap times, growing comprehension and language skills (and the constant repetition of every bad word or comment you have ever made in earshot of your little angel), socializing approaches, and simultaneously increasing demands and need for autonomy.
In short, that's when shit gets real.
And the ugly secret that no one ever tells you, except for the crazy old lady who cackles madly when she sees you struggling with your small child?
Supposedly... these are the easy years.
And I believe it, because every warning that I've received so far has been far milder than the reality. So if people say these are the easy years, it means grab your ass and stock up on the boxed wine now, because it's going to be a wild ride ahead.
Anyone want to go in halfsies with me on a cold war-era bunker? Pretty confident that if we stocked that puppy with boxed wine, Herr's (totally addictive) Cheddar Horseradish chips, and Netflix, we could ride out the teenage years of at least 2, maybe 3 kids...