Parenting is Hard (But is it Worth it?)

Photography by  Kristy Behrs

Photography by Kristy Behrs

Parenting is hard. Growing up is hard. Being a parent of a child growing up is hard. Being a mother is hard, and I’m sure being a dad is too. Whatever it is that makes us think we can raise another human being must be some kind of delusional chemical in our brains that whispers little lies to get us to believe this child rearing thing will be, if not necessarily easy, then at least worth it.

I’ll be honest, there are a lot of days I really question that logic. I rarely think of it as easy, and most of the time when I say it’s worth it, I’m trying to convince myself. Having a kid is far more complex than that. It’s an amazing, terrifying, incredibly odd experience, that much is true. But how much it’s worth I suppose is all a matter of perspective.

I became a parent alone. Without a spouse. My son was born with an absent father. His contribution was a brief love affair and a lot of emotional abuse during pregnancy, and insistence on his family name. Which I chose to ignore. Still a young adult trying to grow up myself, I was ill-equipped for being a parent, but I made the best decisions I could. Even when I tried to give my son a life with his father, it very quickly spiraled into more heartache and damage than I knew I was willing to live with, but more importantly, to have my son grow up with.

At 15, my son hasn’t known his father in over 12 years. He completely disappeared. And yet his ghost still remains. I see it in glimpses in the genetics he left behind. Certain personality traits, habits, preferences that my son develops. I question myself, if I made the right decisions. I’m always questioning my decisions. Because, we can’t control who our children become. We do our best with the knowledge, experience, and information we have, and yet, it always feel like we’ve somehow failed, somewhere along the line. And there’s no Doc Brown with a DeLorean to take us back and make better decisions when it really mattered. Moments that matter happen without us usually realizing it, when we least expect, when we aren’t really paying attention. 

Being a parent is hard. Parenting with another person is hard. I was so very lucky to meet a man, a good man who loved my son as much as he loved me. Both of us young parents with the same journey, raising our sons alone with the the help of our own parents. And as our boys become men, on the road to perhaps becoming fathers themselves one day, I wonder how— why— we continue the cycle when it is so fucking hard. When none of us really know what we’re doing. It’s scary. 

I’m grateful to the parents in our lives. Those who formed us, those who adopt us, those who befriend us, and all those who help us in our own journeys. For the fathers who stick around, who parent just as hard as the moms. Who choose it. Because that’s what being a good parent really comes down to: choosing to give everything you’ve got to raising another human being, especially when it’s really fucking hard. Choosing to make it worth it.