Reading my post again this morning, in the light of day, I realize how awful it sounded, how incredibly negative it seemed, how intensely ungrateful I came across. That post made it sound like I don’t even like my kids, that I don’t appreciate my life. It made me cringe.

It’s not true, by the way. I do like my kids. Well I love them, and most of the time I like them too. My daughter is just so challenging right now. So, so challenging. I read other people’s posts and I just don’t see that kind of behavior in their own kids. Or at least I don’t see their inability to handle it, their hopelessness that it will get better. These are things that I feel, but I don’t see it in other moms. Other moms who just had two babies seem to be managing so much better than I am. They seem more grateful, less self-absorbed. And I wonder, is it me? Is it my daughter? Is it some delicate interplay between us that makes it so incredibly difficult for me to manage our time together. She’s three and a half and she’s still hitting and kicking me out of frustration. She still screams in my face in rage. She still requires 15 minutes of play and negotiation to get dressed in the morning. Is that normal? Is it normal that I have such a hard time dealing with it?

I mean, these are my kids. They were the whole point. They were what I fought for. And now I’m writing posts about how I can’t get away. About how they are, essentially not enough. How do I reconcile those two contradictory feelings: that my children are my everything and yet I need time away from them to recharge. Shouldn’t they recharge me? How could something I wanted so badly be so hard for me manage in my life?

I wonder sometimes, if I’m not cut out for this. If I don’t appreciate it enough. If I’m not grateful enough. Learning I’d most probably be an awful (and ultimately unhappy) SAHM was such a hard blow. Now I wonder if I can even cut it as a WOHM. Maybe motherhood in general is just not for me.

I don’t know. I was just really struck by my post this morning. Really embarrassed by it. I thought of people who might still be trying reading that post and I was ashamed. I felt the need to apologize.

The scariest thing is I didn’t even feel sad or particularly negative when I wrote it. I just felt I was explaining things as-is. But reading back over it, there was such an air of hopelessness about it. I was surprised. Is that how I really feel? Hopeless? Maybe.

Maybe this is all just about going back to work and my fear of losing even more of myself as I put on the new and demanding hat of “middle school teacher.” I’ve never worn the “mother-of-two” and “middle school teacher” hats at the same time before. Both require so much of oneself. So much energy. So much patience. So much understanding. So much of putting your own needs behind the needs of others. Who will I become if my needs always have to come dead last?

Fear is an ugly thing and I suppose it twists our perceptions into ugly likenesses of the truth. I’m trying to remember that as I make me way through this final week of maternity leave, as I cherish these final days with my amazing baby boy, whom I love dearly.

And please know, that I do love my life. And I do know how lucky I am. Even if sometimes my writing betrays it.

14 responses

  1. I think you need to try to give yourself done slack. It’s ok to feel like crap and like you can’t get enough time to yourself to recharge. Osita sounds especially challenging right now and that doesn’t help. While I don’t get much of that (just specific times of day) I find myself dreading bedtime and not liking Baby X because he won’t go the f*** to bed without tantrums and screaming. I can barely handle that, and if he was line that several times a day I would lose my sh*t.

    Hang in there.

  2. Yes my kid behaves like that. All the f-ing time, since 2.5 years and now still at 4. And I handle it extremely poorly. I’ve got half-written, unpublished posts galore about it, but I’m just unsure how much I want to put it out there, because I’m not sure that I want advice or even fake sympathy from those whose kids DON’T act like that and are horrified. I know how you feel, you love your kids, you even LIKE them, but spending time with them is HARD WORK. Sometimes you just want it to be EASY for just one day, or hell, one evening. I was in tears last week thinking this very thing—why can’t it just be EASY for once, why do I have to dread every dinnertime, every weekend, because of the high potential for screaming/hitting tantrums, constant whining, and general unpleasantness. But, like you, I gained perspective soon enough, realized I had asked (no, BEGGED) for this family and I was ashamed of myself for feeling all “woe is me”.
    Nothing but solidarity over here, E.

    • “Sometimes you just want it to be EASY for just one day, or hell, one evening. I was in tears last week thinking this very thing—why can’t it just be EASY for once, why do I have to dread every dinnertime, every weekend, because of the high potential for screaming/hitting tantrums, constant whining, and general unpleasantness.”

      THIS! THIS EXACTLY! I just want it to be easier. I don’t want every interaction to be negative and stressful. And the sad thing is, even when they aren’t negative, I’m waiting for it to turn ugly because I know she can turn on a dime, for no apparent reason. I never know when she’s going to start losing it. It happens so frequently that I’m scared of it all the time. It’s exhausting.

      And my son is SO EASY right now. And so fun. And I enjoy him so much. And it makes the stuff with my daughter so much more complicated. I need to write about that more but I haven’t yet figured out how. Ugh. It’s so tough.

      Thanks for this. Really. I needed it.

      • YES the “waiting for it to turn ugly because I know she can turn on a dime”. This is my life. I hate that I feel like this, constantly on edge, but when I do forget, and relax, it bites me in the ass every. single. time. Sadly, my little one is learning all kinds of fun behavior from his older brother, and I’m hoping hoping hoping he won’t turn into the same kind of kid in 6 months…

  3. I very much liked your last post and had mentally bookmarked it to come back and comment. I don’t measure in filled cups but in my pre-kids/pre-law practice days of playing the Sims — is my bar in the red? And yes, I never have enough time to get my bar up to green – I just try to keep it in the yellow if possible. I can’t envision a time when we’ll ALL be able to be in the green.

    I do have parenting challenges of this sort and have thought about buying the book you mentioned here a long time ago about parenting the “high spirited” child. Miss E hits and scratches and is just an un-ending flow of demands all day long. While I’m satisfying one demand (find my doll), she’s screaming the next two demands (I need crackers, want to watch something) and is throwing a toy across the room aimed at her dad’s guitar. We have really really fun times, but I feel like we spend more time transitioning through the toddler crazies than we do actually having fun. Sometimes I feel well equipped to handle it, and other times I end the day like I did last night, by apologizing to her for not having a more patient day.

    I didn’t read your post as overly negative and I appreciate that others struggle to manage it all too.

  4. I think your last post was spot on and not whiny. Two kids is wicked hard. A 3.5 year old is wicked hard. My 5 year old is still just like you described Osita at times with the violence to us adults only she’s now bigger and it’s maybe once or twice a week in a typical week. I haven’t written much about it because I haven’t and I am such a failure at managing her bad behavior since I’m taking so little care of myself that I have no patience left to use for her. I love her to bits but that kid is going through a really hard time and is making us all insane while we try to cope with her. There are good moments but they often don’t last all that long and tend to be framed with really bad ones. We played the kid’s video game yesterday for maybe 90 minutes (generally pretty good, fun for all) and she then spent at least that long freaking out about whatever it is at bedtime so we were all up almost 2 hours after bedtime. I see no reason to be grateful every minute for everything. That’s disingenuous. It’s fine to recognize a hard time and be fed up with it. Having the two really cool kids doesn’t mean they are saints and easy to manage all the time. It means they are human, just like you. I think 3 was the hardest age we’ve gone through so far so stick it out. Some of the awful they seem to grow out of (unless you stupidly move when your kid is 4, then they freak and continue being 3 another year or so). I also think that it’s worth giving up the shame when you are fed up with things being bad. Yes, you asked for this family and hoped and worked hard but that doesn’t mean you gave up your right to be real and feel real things that aren’t sunshine and roses.

  5. I’d have commented on some earlier posts, but finding that kind of time is pretty impossible these days.

    My 3.5 year old, who is a couple weeks younger than Osita, behaves pretty much exactly like her, and it doesn’t seem to matter how much or how little we do for him, whether we use positive or negative reinforcement, or anything. And now that his brother is 10 months old and moving around and playing independent of me, the older one has added hitting, kicking, hair pulling, etc. to the mix of awful daily behavior. For a while, I thought it was me, because I was so completely overwhelmed. But after a particularly dark period, my doctor put me on and now that I can think clearly, I can appreciate (for lack of a better word) that his behavior has little to do with anything other than that’s just how this phase goes for the most part. I’m still completely overwhelmed, but can accept that isn’t completely my fault.

    My older son is totally unlikable about 80% of the time, my husband actually looks forward to Monday mornings because he goes back to work and there is lot about our current day-to-day that I dread facing.

    My younger son had stopped sleeping through the night and is having a hellacious time with teething, but I’d so much rather spend time with him than the other one because he is not an asshole.

    You are not alone.

    • YES on looking forward to Mondays. Sometimes this is too true in our house. And I know a blogger-mom once got blasted for calling her 3-year old an asshole, but I secretly agreed, because what else do you call it when someone constantly physically hurts you and his younger brother, demands things, purposefully damages possessions, and then spits in your face for fun?

      • My daughter can be a total asshole and I use that word to describe her on occasion to my husband. He agrees. She can be the worst sometimes.

        I was reading an Attachment Parenting article recently and it had a bit about how APing is about treating children with the respect you’d treat other adults. (They mentioned co-workers specifically at one point) and I remember thinking, if an adult treated me like my daughter does I’d never respect them, not in a million years. I’d probably have charges of assault brought against them! And I know that kids, especially toddlers/preschoolers don’t have the social/emotional skills that adults do and we have to model the behavior we hope to see in them when they do have those faculties but damn, it’s hard to basically be assaulted on a daily basis and have to show empathy for the person who is physically and emotionally hurting you every day.

  6. You know that right now, things are relatively tame with Matthew. But holy hell do we feel these challenges approaching us. B took him to the Y last week to swim, you know, because it would be fun. They walked by the basketball courts and all hell broke loose because Matthew wanted to play. So B let him until open gym was over. Cue an epic melt down that even swimming couldn’t resolve. Matthew came home sobbing, after beating B to a pulp. B was ready to rip the few hairs out he has on his head. He did say, though, that he kept hearing me say in his head, “you can’t take it personally – this is just how he is right now.”. He said that helped.

    By Sunday night, B is ready to go back to work and just last week, he took back a comment he made a few months ago saying our jobs were equally hard, just different. He now says my job would be impossible for him and that it’s harder than anything he’s done. Good man.

    I think your feelings are very normal. I’ve felt this way and Matthew isn’t three yet. My sister, mother of four, says age three is harder than two. I’m believing her because I see it coming on. I can FEEL it getting harder. And OMG the whining – I hate the whining.

    I thought your earlier post was not at all ungrateful.

  7. So it took me about 3 years to adjust to two kids (girl is now 5.5, boy is 3.5). I remember one time when the younger one was only a few months old, sitting on the floor with one kid in each arm, both of them totally losing it and thinking “what has HAPPENED to my LIFE???” I often thought in terms of triage during that first year. And it’s only been in the past year that I’ve started to be able to relax when I’m with my kids. Before that, I was always tense. Always! waiting for that other shoe to drop.

    It sounds to me like Osita is a really spirited child. My sister was too, and I can remember my parents being totally at their wits’ end with her.

    You know, my feeling is that our baseline for any of us who’ve battled IF/loss, once we have kids, is profound gratitude. There may be surface turmoil but underneath it all is deep gratitude. I don’t always feel it, or express it, for sure. And I definitely need to be able to say that – to say that this is way harder than I ever dreamed it would be, and that’s ok. Feeling that way doesn’t make me or you or anyone a bad mom.

  8. I’m a little late to comment here, but I’m so glad to see all the support you’ve gotten! Feeling this way is totally normal! Parenting is so, so hard, and when we add on this guilt for feeling that it’s hard, it’s just extra stress. So please, no judgment from any of us here. It is so normal, how you’re feeling. And it’s bringing back so much of how I felt a few months ago. Things are in a good palce now, but I know it’s all up and down.

  9. I’m late to commenting too. Please don’t regret your post. You did not come off as ungrateful. We’ve had some really rough weeks with new job routines, coming off the holidays, work stress, and it has been really hard. Just this morning, I cried after dropping off D at school b/c I was so relieved to be back to the normal routine of work/school after 3 snow days but also because with him right now. Whining. Hating every meal if it’s not pizza. Hating his name. It is a battle and I suck at it. I cried because I felt like I am not the mother he needs, that I’m a shitty mother, and how can I be so ungrateful after what we went through.

    This parenting…it’s hard. We need posts like this because it was honest. Every moment is NOT rosy and magical. Often, it is just hard.

    So I thank you.

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