This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
In the past few years, several of my friends have had kids. Shithead Carl—a guy who once lit a fart on fire and ended up in the hospital—now has a toddler. Stacy, a former internet girlfriend, is expecting twins later in the year. Previous to getting pregnant, her most ambitious creation was an Etsy shop. Stacy sold troll dolls she had carved into bongs.
While my social media used to be entirely thirst traps, angsty status updates, and misspelled song lyrics, it’s slowly been inundated with photos of babies and children. Here is my baby trying to eat a balloon! Look my kid is at the beach! There is my child falling over! The rhetoric accompanying these photos is always positive, despite the fact that most times when I run into said parents they usually seem pretty tired. Everybody I know really loves their little ones. They’re definitely trying the best they can. Still, at best it all seems pretty hard. Recently, in an effort to have a more honest conversation about raising children, I asked parents the hardest part about having kids. You can read their answers below.
“I miss having privacy. I haven’t taken a shit alone in four years.” — Isaac Klein
“Hardest? Feeling alienated from my former life. I miss my childless friends so much and when I'm with them, my brain is full of idiotic anecdotes about my kid that don't really matter to anyone but me. I feel dumb blurting them out but I got nothing else to offer. There can be intense loneliness in being a stay at home parent.” — Kaitlyn Cinovskis
“Non-stop, completely useless advice and judgment from every corner. I had no idea.” — Issa Diao
“The most difficult thing about being a parent thus far is the fact that you can have two at the same time. Our kids were born three months ago and not a day goes by where I’m not flabbergasted that we had two. The joy, guilt, laughter, difficulty, and abject terror are even more acute when you look down and see two mouths that need feeding. Are you guys by any chance hiring? What does it pay?“ — Singer/songwriter Dave Hause
“When you become a parent, suddenly everything feels like a crisis. The stakes are incredibly high all the time. It's staggering how little you care for your own life when compared to that of your child. Every patch of ice becomes a slip and fall hazard. Every tree nut evokes fears of EpiPens. Every playground interaction sparks concerns about bullying… I feel like I haven't been able to catch my breath in 5 years.” — Haley Gienow-McConnell
“Talking to other parents.” — Mike Cinovskis
“I think ultimately the hardest thing is how much I wish I could protect them from all the hurt, pain, and difficulty, while somehow not having them grow up to be totally fucked over neurotic human beings who can't function in the real world. I hate that pain and difficulty are a necessary part of growing up and learning. Seeing your kid struggle sucks so, so much.” — Megan Mooney
“Sometimes when I’m with my kid I don’t feel like I’m in the moment. I have to focus on work. But the only reason I’m focusing so hard on work is to provide a better life for my kid. And sometimes I feel like the kid might be better off if I was just more present with him in the first place.” — Geoff G.
“The hardest part of having a kid was trying not to pass out at the hospital while they started my wife’s IV. She was so annoyed with me and rightfully so. I was fine during the actual delivery, surprisingly.” — Ramon S.
“Feeling like you have to buy all the things to be a good parent, but then also the enormous cost of things that aren't optional i.e. daycare, dental, tiny shoes.” — Rebekka U.
“The hardest part of having a kid, for me, remains being (still) unsettled professionally and trying—and failing—to determine and constantly shuffle priorities. Everything suffers, and God, there is so much to feel guilty about. — Kristen Campbell
“Living by example. I sucked at life before and now I’m a role model.” — Victoria Vamos
“The feeling that I never actually know what I'm doing. It's like a never-ending, constantly evolving imposter syndrome because the moment you think you've got a handle on what parenting is, your kid moves onto a new phase of their development and you're back to square one…” — Sarah Cohen
“When I first had Sloane my mom came to visit, and as we were walking along the road after dinner one night, I pushed Sloane in her stroller. She was just a few weeks old. I turned to my mom and asked: ‘It goes away right, this anxiety?’ And she said ‘Oh no, it changes as to which one of you I’m most anxious about but it never ever goes away.’” — Lucy Eveleigh
Some names in this article have been changed.
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.
Follow Graham Isador on Twitter.