Looking at My Kids Fighting, I Realize Kids Aren’t For Me
I have a small panic attack slowly and steadily approaching. I’m writing this post amid my two toddlers battling over the same dinner the other has. I realize many times a day that kids (including my own) aren’t for me. Though I enthusiastically helped with three much younger sisters, changing, feeding, late-night pacing through colic, it’s a different animal when they’re yours. I acknowledge my arrogance in thinking that helping with my sisters, and waiting until my mid-thirties would have given me some unique edge on this tricky journey.
As they continue to battle in Hulk and Wonder Woman costumes, I declare for the 5th time, “someone is going to get hurt.” I just wait for the big one. The shriek of a finger slammed in a door, or a fake kick that lands contact. Where I’d usually read the last rights and call off the lunacy, I’m in one of those “I’m over it” moods. You know, the feeling where you feel like you’re just numb, and even a small kitchen fire wouldn’t elicit much more than a “Gee, we may need to call the Fire Department” reaction. I’m exhausted in every way a human can be.
The Magical Voyage of Rainbow Colored, Odorless Poop
One thing that I’ve grown especially crotchety about, is parents going on long-winded, self-serving sales pitches, about parenting being this magical voyage of rainbow-colored, odorless poop. They always need to clarify how much they love it while nominating themselves for the parent of the year. Let’s do better than that. Can we, at the very least, agree that there’s a need for balance when childless friends ask “how’s life with kids”?
If I make motherhood sound ridiculously miserable, that’s because it often is! This is no cry for attention or ploy to stand out among all the articles that make becoming a mother seem like nature’s one size fits all type of deal.
I imagined maternal instinct was this heavenly beam of light that would penetrate my being, with all sorts of comfort and knowledge, as soon as I gave birth. Scared and awkward, I cradled my daughter in the same position that the nurse placed her in my arms for hours, before I dared switch positions. All I was thinking was, “OMG, these nurses, my boyfriend, and my mother are going to see how uncomfortable I am.” “Where the hell is my motherly instinct”!?
I’ve witnessed my mother have two heartbreaking miscarriages before having my three sisters. I can’t imagine the strength, faith, and courage it takes to continue putting your heart on the line in that capacity. My truth doesn’t lack empathy for anyone who has suffered such a loss or is unable to conceive. Quite the opposite is true. I admire your steadfast courage and resilience, along with your self-awareness. You’re continuing toward what you know you want, no matter how difficult it may be.
I’m writing this article in a totally foul mood, (literally, my eyelid is twitching). The reality is that these twitch inducing moments are part of this life transformation called parenthood. On a day when we’re grabbing a pizza, skipping along the way home from the park, and I may be guilty of spewing the rainbow-colored, odorless poop side of motherhood.
The Perfect Formula
When my girlfriends ask for my 2 cents on motherhood, my sentiments very much reflect the tone of this article. However, I always end my parenting rant with, “but I wouldn’t change a thing. ” I can totally imagine my life without children. Does that qualify me for the crap mother of the year award? Maybe, or it just makes me a woman with many different layers, whose fulfillment hinges on more than one aspect of life.
I laugh, recalling the praise I received for having my children back to back. “Oh, you’re getting it over within one shot,” “they’ll be so close with each other,” and every other justification for how my unplanned, “piggyback” pregnancies were a work of divine genius. It reminded me of how so many mothers told my mom how smart she was for spacing us out so far apart (although that was the work of miscarriages and finances).
Motherhood is such a big bag of randomness, is there really a perfect formula that exists? Are there any mothers rocking motherhood like a ninja? Show yourself! Come forward! Until we hear from such a mother, I guess that you do your best given whatever your circumstances were before, and what they are after baby makes a splash.
The Battle Between Roots and Wings
My girlfriend, (a mother of 3 girls), put it in a way that resonated with me. “Lisa, some days, I feel like saying this shit ain’t for me, and running out of the door, like a love-sick teenager.” Ironically, once you finally have time to decompress, running off to live a Fifty Shades of Gray type of existence will be the furthest thing from your mind. You’ll more than likely be eager to get back to the asylum, (dare I say even miss it). After all, nobody takes care of your children as you do, (which is ironically the reason they feel so safe showing you their worst). This is the yin and yang of motherhood. Bouts of desperately needing to flee, while being drawn and bound by unimaginable love. It’s as though you have wings and roots, often feeling the torment of them ripping you in two.
When Self-Awareness Kicks in After the Fact
How does one deal with a self-awareness revelation in hindsight, that alerts them that a significant life decision, (like parenthood), isn’t for them? For me, it takes loads of humility, honesty, and forgiveness. I’m honest with myself, their father, and anyone else willing to listen to how and what I’m feeling. I forgive myself for what may be harsh feelings at times, and that certainly contradict what we’re told we should feel as nurtures. I’ve been blessed with a hand that I may not be the best at playing (and some days I don’t even want to play), but once you love your child, that’s it. Your imperfections, their pain in the ass moments, and all the hindsight reflecting won’t undo your undying dedication to them.