I Made Up A New Word To Describe Parenting: “Harderful”

As a society, I think we are this close to overdoing the phrase “there are no words.”  Since that saying bugs me, I have started making up my own words, to prove to that yes, indeed, there are words, but you gotta make ’em up.

Take parenting.  It’s so complex and life-altering to parent.  If you say, “it’s wonderful,” you sound like a Pollyanna D-bag who is hopped up on prescription drugs. Because, while it is often wonderful, that’s a shallow description of something that, oh so often, isn’t all that wonderful. (See, bleeding nipples, being up all night, changing diapers after your son binges on black olives).

On the other hand, if you say, “it blows chunks to be a parent,” that’s also one-dimensional because it doesn’t cover the high of seeing your child learn the words to a Willie Nelson song (“Faded Love”) or recognize Costco from the highway.

So, I made up a new adjective:

Harderful: adj., an experience that is both intensely wonderful  in the deepest and most fundamentally fulfilling ways, but also harder than you ever expected as the experience required of you more guts, stamina, and sheer willpower than you knew you possessed.

So parenting? It’s really effing harderful.  (Also harderful: travel to India, recovery from addiction, law school.)

My ferrets

My ferrets

While it’s certainly possible there is a bona fide Queen’s English word that is a synonym for harderful, I haven’t met that word yet, and harderful is starting to stick. I am going to talk to the Microsoft, Apple, and Instagram people about getting it added to the lexicon so your auto-correct won’t turn it into “harder ful” (because that’s such a great and oft-used phrase).

To be sure, there are experiences that are purely wonderful. I wrote about a recent one here on the Huffington Post about a grace-filled moment with my daughter during her abortive first dance recital.

And, yes, there are experiences that just blow chunks.  I wrote about one here, and here, and here.  Just last night, I snuggled into my bed alone since Jeff’s out of town.  At midnight, Sadie pole-vaulted herself on top of me and proceeded to scissor kick me all night long.  Except for when she was donkey-kicking Simon, who joined the calisthenics around 1:30 AM.  It was like sleeping with two feral ferrets, kicking, clawing and grunting their way through my REM cycles.  It sucked a whole lot, but also? It was sort of wonderful in that sleep-deprived, someone-get-me-some-effing-personal-space-pronto sort of way.

You know. It was harderful.


44 thoughts on “I Made Up A New Word To Describe Parenting: “Harderful”

  1. While I truly like harderful, my favorite part of this post was you comparing your kids to Feral Ferrets. And in true Dave Barry fashion, all I can think is that Feral Ferrets would be a GREAT name for a rock band. Great post!

    • Let’s think this through. You are on drums, I am on the keyboard, and we’ll get some others in on this….Maybe my buddy the Grammar Belle (she’s from Big D) and we can lure Carinn from WTTM for steel guitar.

      THE FERAL FERRETS…. headlining BLogHEr 2013.

  2. It is very hardful, and I believe this word will stick with me. Congratulations on your Huffington Post piece. It was also beautiful and well written, as usual. Would you be terribly offended if I went in and donkey kicked some of those commenters though?
    You inspire me as a writer, Christie. I mean that.

  3. I also find parenting, in my case of twins, to be bi-polarific, swinging wildly from overwhelming love to a level of annoyance I never thought possible. I’m new to your blog and love it!! There is no better fodder for humor than the lunacy of children. I’ll be back here, often I expect!!!!

  4. As usual, I’m rolling on the floor. Being a parent is one of the most harderful things I’ve ever both truly sucked at and been pretty gifted in as well. “Sifted”? Most days I feel completely inadequate then someone says “thank you or please” or take the bowl
    to the sink and I think wow maybe I’m the best mom ever…5 min later I’m back to sifted. Haha
    We use the word pooperslew instead of some other naughty things. It means “adj. 1. Oh crap. 2. Something we don’t agree with. 3. My son and my 7 yr old sister made it up meaning people not invited to their club. Meaning those people are pooperslews. “Parenting sift” moment.

  5. I will be using that one for sure! I make them up but usually just add an -ish to a word. You got the creatively thing going on. Also, I like that it pairs up nicely with effing.

    On another note: Printer’s Row Short Story Fiction Night was out of this world! Wish you’d have been free. Learned a ton about the process. The authors were so genuine, smart and hilarious (well 4 of 5). Very motivating. I’m going to the Maria Semple (Where’d you go, Bernadette) one sometime April-ish. Come with me!

  6. Harderful is brilliant! And I laughed out loud at “the high of seeing your child learn the words to a Willie Nelson song (“Faded Love”) or recognize Costco from the highway.” My 9yo ferret comes into bed even earlier when Dad is away. At least the 16yo stays put. Not sure there’d be room for him!

  7. Great new word. Definitely a keeper and very descriptive. Especially love the vision of your two ferrets monopolizing the bed last night. Harderful and wonderful for sure. Love you lots.

  8. I love waking to sweet toddler breath on my nose and HATE every other minute from midnight on. He pulls hair in his sleep and has magnets in his feet that demand he try to put his icy toes into the back of my jammies.
    Can sometimes harderful be horribliss? Or horriblissish?

  9. There are no words to describe how great the word harderful is. Haha. Get it? I said the thing you don’t like with the thing you made up? It’s early. Sorry.

    Harderful. Yes. You nailed it.

  10. Pingback: On My Mind: 03.04.13

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