I had a great laugh with one of my best friends the other day about a meme with two toddlers staring outside of a glass door. The caption read something like, “Imagine coming home to this every day”. Albeit, the children were beautiful but I have to be honest. While I would momentarily swoon over their undeniable cuteness, I would immediately wonder 1) what type of mess would be waiting for me on the other side of that door and 2) what in the world their daddy allowed them to get into while I was gone. This is the reality of parenthood. My issue is not necessarily with the portrayal of happiness or the great moments of parenting. It’s the fact that these memes are sometimes painting an unrealistic picture for my fellow twenty-somethings and young hopefuls that are excited to start a family in the future. As someone that entered into parenthood at 21 and got married at 23, I feel it necessary to clear up a few things that social media has misrepresented. Let’s get into some reality.
Reality Check #1:
Your wedding is only a very small part of your marriage and has very little to do with what type of marriage you will have.
I’ve said this before; I’ll say it again: I love weddings. They’re absolutely beautiful. But social media has made elaborate weddings the ultimate goal instead of healthy marriages built upon the right foundation. Remember, a wedding only lasts a night. What happens after the honeymoon when things get real? And believe me—things will get real. There is nothing wrong with wanting a beautiful wedding just as long as you understand that the real work of marriage goes beyond wedding planning. Happy couples are intentional about keeping their marriage happy. It takes work, prayer, and loads of selflessness. It doesn’t matter whether you spend $40,000 or $200 for your wedding. If you’re not taking the time to invest in your marriage, it will not last. The memes always seem to leave that part out.
Reality Check #2
Being a mother is great but it’s also extremely difficult.
My kids are by far the most expensive and most high maintenance creatures I’ve ever encountered in my life. They are also the most amazing. Watching my daughter grow from an infant into a toddler and to now a preschooler has been remarkable. And oh my gosh, my little man is walking! Parenting is incredibly rewarding but if I can be honest, for every rewarding moment there at least 7 difficult ones. Literally everything is a battle. I don’t understand why I have to explain to my daughter that she shouldn’t be jumping on the dog but the fact of the matter is, I do. Tantrums happen, you will lose sleep, and you will cry. But you know what? Those little stinkers are absolutely worth it. The fact is, parenting is a never ending process of trial and error that encompasses mini-fails and huge wins. Social media skips right over the tough stuff and shows you these gorgeous babies inciting baby fever in everyone that sees. But I can promise you that just as sure as that baby is cute, they’re also a complete handful.
Reality Check #3
Marriage isn’t always fun and romances comes and goes.
I love the memes with Nerf guns and cute notes but the fact is, that stuff doesn’t happy every day and it doesn’t define your marriage. It would be really cool if marriage was always like a day at the amusement park but it’s just not realistic. And it would be cool if every evening when my husband comes home I could surprise him with a new outfit or something exciting but once again, it’s just not realistic. There are plenty of days that I’d much rather sit alone and read or write and that’s okay! It doesn’t mean that we love each other any less, it just means that we’re human. Having fun and being romantic are really important but intimacy, working through things together, and communication are in my opinion, what make your marriage infallible. Don’t base your idea of marriage on the fantasies laid out on social media; you’ll be gravely disappointed. There’s so much more to marriage.
Reality Check #4
Pregnancy and Labor and Delivery are uncomfortable to say the least. You probably won’t be dancing.
The labor and delivery memes are usually the funniest to me because I seriously cannot imagine dancing in the delivery room. I was in so much pain. Everyone’s labor is different but nine times out of ten, you will be tired, in excruciating pain and probably pretty irritable. And when you’re in that much pain, you will be forced to focus on staying calm and pain management. If you think you’ll dance, cool, but I’m not going to sugar coat it: Having a baby hurts and it’s super exhausting. Most women just choose to relax.
Reality Check #5
The ring size does not matter.
Every girl loves a beautiful diamond ring but the significance of my wedding band in relation to my marriage is synonymous to the rainbow that we see after it rains. The rainbow is merely a symbol of God’s grace. God’s grace extends much further than beautiful colors in the sky and His grace is substantial even without the presence of the rainbow. The rainbow does not define it or display the extent of His grace. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten to put on my ring the morning and it doesn’t change the way that I feel or the way that I participate in my marriage. What my husband and I have is more valuable than any tangible thing in this world. My point is, the ring is insignificant compared to the connection that you should have with your spouse. Whether it’s ½ a carat or 7 carats, the size of a ring should never be a deciding factor in whether or not you’ll spend the rest of your life with someone. It honestly just doesn’t matter that much.
They say that perception is reality and I want your perception of life to be based on what’s real—not fantasy. So let’s take those memes with a grain of salt and remember that nothing worth having comes easy; there’s always more to the story.
Do you have any other thoughts or insights that you could share about the reality of parenting and married life?