Let's get real.
I love it when you meet the perfectly dressed mom, whose shoes match her purse and her make-up is impeccable. She is more than likely pushing a $500 dollar stroller, smiling down at picture perfect Jean-Pierre in his Ralph Lauren cashmere sweater. Her nails are not chipped, her diamond wedding ring sparkles and she is overheard making a play date on Friday for little Jean-Pierre and his friends at the local park, right before his sign language lessons and garden planting class. She drives the luxury SUV that has been waxed and polished, and smells like new car. She is stopping for lunch at the local Italian restaurant, but has to leave early to put the little tyke to bed before the sitter comes so she and her husband can go to the art gallery hop. And at the end of her conversation she exclaims "Geesh, parenting is hard."
I think that the first clue of hard parenting would be when your uterus stretches to the point of no return, your skin betrays you and has a permanent road map marking the path your child stretched, and the only way out for the little "sweet pea", is the way it came in, or how about someone with a really sharp knife is going to fillet your innards, for exit B. Sounds pretty tough.
And then "Precious" will proceed to steal your sleep, your brain, your things, your food, and create the most gruesome scene out of any horror flick... in it's pants. And just when you think you have seen it all, you will smell it all, and wonder exactly when, you signed up for this. And you will think... this is rough.
"Darling" will start to speak and then hit. Bring home germs and get sick. You will doubt any "mother's instinct" you think you have. Should I call the Doctor? Is that normal? Will "lovey" be smart enough? Am I teaching the right things? "Will someone call CPS when my kids tells them that Mommy fed them pizza for breakfast? Is pizza for breakfast okay? Yeah, this gig is harder than you thought.
So when you meet perfect mommy, and hear the exclamation that "parenting is hard...." you want to sit her down, with you in your running shoes that you bought on sale at Kohl's, sporting the faded black capris with the stretched out black shirt that has a string hanging from back. She's not going to ask where you got your hair done at, because you will have to be honest and tell her, "by my 7 year old. She picked out the bright purple rubber band." She won't ask you what smell that is that you are wearing, and you won't answer "Aunt Jemima....syrup." as you try to hide the sticky stain on your shirt where the 1 year old wiped her face. She won't notice your ring, spun around and dingy from washing and cleaning. She might take notice of the one year old in the Gymboree....with Gap socks. Or the one year old with marker on it's tongue.
Your car will be parked next to her, complete with straw wrappers and kindergarten papers. Stories from the library and 8 sweatshirts, all that have been trampled on. Making it to the car wash never really gets done, because you have kids, and after the wrestling match in the grocery store, you are exhausted. The lessons that you have your kids signed up for are "Natural consequences". And "how to listen to anyone."
Truth is, parenting is hard. No doubt about it. There have been days that I wanted to quit, collect unemployment or at least get some vacation pay. But they don't let on that the hardest, is when you have to send them all, out into this big world someday, and they will wave, and keep going. That is when it gets hard.