(This post was originally published on the Charleston Daily Mail’s Mommyhood blog.)
Okay, so here’s the thing: I love being a part of the Mommyhood blog and- lest you think otherwise after you read what I’m about to write- I really love my children. But, here’s a little truism that people have a hard time admitting: Sometimes, parenting blows.
That’s right, I said it. And, lately it seems, it’s not that unique a thing to say. Comedians have said it; other, more hip mom bloggers have said it; Naomi Wolf wrote a book about it. Probably everyone but the Jolie-Pitts are talking about how difficult parenthood can be. But, I think it bears repeating, and not just because my back/neck/brain hurts as I type this. Parenting can be draining, exhausting, and tedious work; to be honest, it can wear me the hell out.
Remember when having kids was all about getting extra field hands and built-in babysitters? (Awww, Governor Scott Walker… remember how their little nimble fingers worked the sewing machines so well in the textile mills?) What happened? How did it become all about them?How is it that my car radio is tuned to 102.7 (or, simply- “Electric”) and my TV to the Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, or Nickelodeon? Whatever happened to my beloved PBS? (Actually… seriously, what is happening to PBS?) I think my kids are eating my life!
Of course, I’m mostly kidding. I don’t have any fields to plow and- except for a really gigantic puppy- I don’t have any babies who need sat. And, if I’m totally truthful, I like a little iCarly every now and again. But, I’m coming off of a really needy kid evening and I want to wax romantic about a time when children were (mostly) seen and not heard. Because right now, I’m thinking that everyone at the Lowe’s on Corridor G has seen and heard my kids- seen them running through the aisles playing tag; heard them begging me for everything from books on container gardening and how to build your own marshmallow shooter, to black lights and lava lamps. I mean… Lowe’s is basically a hardware store; shouldn’t they have been bored??
Sometimes, when I have endured an evening of kid-centered chaos, I try to call to mind the warm glow of their infancies. The rocking chair, the soft music of the teddy bear mobile, the dimmed lights… It’s nice to remember the peaceful quiet of new motherhood. (Sigh.) But, tonight my reverie is interrupted by the cat demanding food. I mean, the kids are finally in bed- after Lowe’s, after homework, after dinner and baths, after laundry and chore-remindering (which is a new word that I just made up), and just everything… and the darn cat starts meowing . Et tu, Chaz? Immediately I’m reminded that, far from peace and quiet, new motherhood was, in many ways, even more grueling. The kids, like the cat, always needed food back then (like, really, all the time) and, for a great while, the food came from me. God, how selfless I must have been in those days…
Anyway, before anyone gets his/her fingers all limbered up to chastise me for being an entitled whiny-baby, let me cut you off at the pass. I get it. I know that kvetching about my healthy, beautiful, sweet children might make me seem like an ingrate. I realize that my kids are amazing little people and, really, I love being with them; love parenting them; love talking to them; love, love, LOVE them. It’s just that sometimes, I get tired. And when I’m tired and the kids are, you know, on fire with their childhood verve, parenthood can suck be hard. That’s all I’m saying.
A postscript: It’s Friday now, and I’ve just delivered my children safely to their school. My son got himself up and ready, took the dog out, and came upstairs to snuggle me. My little girlie donned her new polka-dotted shirt, brushed her hair, and pushed it back with a pair of my oversized, white sunglasses. We joked around all the way to school and they laughed until tears came out of their eyes. I got to kiss their smelly heads and hug their skinny bodies. Except for church, I won’t see them until Monday afternoon. Please look for my next blog post, which will be all about missing them.