It is my contention, and my belief, that you find out what a person’s character really and truly is when you encounter them in extreme situations.
Now, my definition of extreme is a little on the tame side. I am not talking about plane crashes or mountain rescues (though I am sure it holds true there, too). I base my claim purely and simply on the most long term extreme situation anyone will encounter. Parenthood.
Now, pre-kids, people can have you fooled. They can profess to believe all sorts of things. They can fool themselves about what their core values are. They can behave in a way that enables them to stay a part of the peer group they aspire to. But after kids…
There’s the sleep deprivation. Chronic, unceasing sleep deprivation. The nappies. The crying. You subsume yourself, your personality, your priorities to another helpless living being. Frankly, you’re so tired and so busy that you don’t have the time or energy to do anything except act in accordance with the beliefs you actually hold. Your brain is too fried to do anything else.
So your true beliefs emerge. In my case, what I discovered was an overwhelming perfectionism and workaholism that just didn’t sit well with motherhood. Motherhood, especially in those first months, is about just being there and being ‘good enough’. So I really struggled.
I have seen friends change from being free and easy into people who strongly believe in the power of routine. I have seen people resort to television as a means of escape and entertaining the youngsters; I have seen people throw the TV away.
When little is being asked of us, it is easy to pretend. But when the going gets tough, we find out what we truly believe.