Time has given me the ability to understand that what I see - and the way I see it - is coloured by the lens of loss.
This notion is true for everyone, of course. We all see the world based on things that have happened to us: people we've met, jobs we've had, loves we've lost, struggles we've faced, triumphs we've celebrated - our life experiences make us see things in a way unique only to us.
So I'm biased, is what I'm saying.
I see a mother wishing away her weekend because she's tired of being with her kids and I want to scream. I hear conversations about how parenting is mostly joyless drudgery (at lot - it seems like a trendy opinion these days) and I reel with the force of a hand slap to the face.
I stand mute while these conversations swirl around me because I know that my opinion won't count. I am the one who sees motherhood through rose coloured glasses. They know that, and I know that. I can still conjure that dreamy, once-upon-a-time vision of a warm, sleepy baby tucked into my arms while I rock him gently back to sleep in the middle of the night, singing softly and marveling at his beauty while my heart bursts with love and pride.
Seriously, I can still see it, plain as day.
In that vision I am beautiful, love radiating from my glowing face in the dim light of the man-in-the-moon lamp, tendrils of hair cascading just so, my robe crisply white, my slippers fluffy and new. I am not haggard, half-asleep, dirty, disheveled, or vomited-upon. I'm not even in a bad mood. I'm happy to be up in the middle of the night. Happy.
Is that how it would have been? I'm guessing probably no. Not every time. Maybe not even once (except for the glowing with love bit - I'm sure that would always have been true).
But in the absence of any personal evidence to prove this vision fraudulent, that's the movie that plays in my head. And so to hear parenting so cruelly maligned is always a bit of a shock. Almost a personal affront to the life I wanted so very, very badly - and to that lovely vision I hold so dear. It flat out makes me angry to hear those who have it treat it like a head cold they wish they could medicate away.
But I understand it's not fair of me to judge. I really do, despite evidence to the contrary. And I understand that I can't help but see the experience of parenting in a way those with living children never will. It's just that all that annoying understanding creates such a war between my head and my heart.
The worst of it is that I can't say anything. Obviously I can't contribute to conversations about the difficulty of day-to-day parenting (although it's not like I don't have a clue how hard parenting can be; I had to take my child off life support. I get that it's hard). And if I chose to point out that parents should shut up and be grateful for the gifts they were lucky enough to be given every time someone within earshot complained about their kid, I'm sure I'd find my Christmas card list diminish rather quickly.
Parents who have living children see their lives through that lens. They aren't supposed to put on my glasses and see it my way. They can't. They have their perspective, I have mine.
So I stay quiet. Mostly. You know, except for blogging.
And I try - I really, really do try - to keep it all in perspective, knowing that my vision of motherhood is still, and always will be, just a lovely dream playing quietly in my head.