Last week, Time published an online article saying parents exaggerate the joys of parenting as a way to compensate for the economic cost and stress of raising a child. (As the article said, kids used to be our staff, but instead they've become our bosses.) As a parent myself, I do have to admit that yes, childcare is expensive and it's hard taking care of one small child. My respect goes out to those who have more than one child, especially if they have multiples. It is especially hard when you're working and have so many responsibilities to juggle. That said, I know people struggling with infertility who would love to have these issues. And despite the lack of sleep and hearing loss from Alex screaming in my ears, I do find joy in sharing activities with my son, reliving my own childhood, watching him develop, and listening to him laugh. Am I exaggerating these joys? I'd like to think not.
Although parenting is the toughest job there is, at times, writing can be difficult too. We spend hours staring at computer screens or paper, writing and rewriting, only to deal with critiques, rejections, and bad reviews. Many of us dream of making a living from our writing, but few of us will actually be able to make it happen. Does this mean that we have to exaggerate the joys of writing too?
I personally think that the desires to write and parent are deep-seated in our psyches, deeper than economic drives. There's more to the need to create than reason will allow. It's also worth remembering that even though writing and parenting are difficult, it's the problems and stresses that make us grow as individuals. In the end, when you've created something or someone new, you'll be able to look back at the struggles of colic or writer's block and feel proud that you overcame them. I think we have to look at long-term projects like raising a child or writing a novel and accept the inevitable stress that comes with them. In fact, perhaps overcoming the challenges gives us reason to celebrate in the end.