Taking care of another human being, of course, is full of intense rewards, emotional highs, and amazing discoveries. However, the regular ho-hum days of motherhood have a lot of frustrating moments that can sometimes add up to very real feelings of defeat and failure (and lots of hair-pulling). There have been quite a few things that have made me want to quit parenting after my absolute worst day and, well, as a parent you're sure to live your "absolute worst day" more than once.
I am home with my children a lot and I know that in many ways that makes me lucky, as my situation is a luxury a lot of people do not have. I get to pick them up from school a couple days a week, take them to playdates and classes, and I handle their bedtime routine almost every night. However, it doesn't take much for an OK day to suddenly turn into an absolutely horrible day. We could have had a great day together, then on the way home one of my kids starts screaming (and refuses to stop) because I won't let him blow bubbles in his stroller. From that moment on the whole night is off, and no one goes easy on me. The kids refuse the dinner I've made, they can't agree on what show to watch, and one kid ends up hurting the other. Getting them to sleep is like a game of whack-a-mole, and I feel one of my chronic migraines coming on. In other words, I'm having one of my absolute worst days, for the third time this month.
I know, it sounds so cliché and this scenario plays out in households everywhere, but the pileup of these small moments when you are alone with your children and your best seems to be failing, can be defeating and can feel unfair. Sometimes you want to call in a referee or stop time, like the second before the mac and cheese bowl hits the floor and splatters onto your nice couch. Sometimes, and even though it makes you feel pretty damn terrible, you just want to quit the parenting game altogether. Well, I'm here to tell you you're not alone in that feeling, you're not a bad mother for not wanting to mom sometimes, and I've felt the very same feeling, too. Like, you know, when the following moments happen:
When I've Planned An Amazing Day, But The One Thing That Went Wrong Is All My Kid Is Talking About
I don't know why I do this to myself, but I tend to plan the most ambitious adventures for my kids on days when I'm alone with them, like when I don't have a family member to help or when my husband is working. In my fantasy version of life, these activities "get us out of the house" and "make the day go by faster." But the reality is they usually are a huge fail before they even begin.
For example, my 5-year-old son will refuse to walk or take his scooter to wherever I've decided we should go. He'll throw a tantrum at the door. I'll decide to carry my 2-year-old son in the crook of an arm and push the umbrella stroller with the other which, I'll realize, is a horrible plan. We'll get to the "kid friendly destination" and have a wonderful time, and the actual visit will be a roaring success. However, to my 5-year-old son's horror, the gift store at wherever we are won't have the kind of toy he likes. This will be completely unreasonable. Unspeakable. Now this "kid friendly destination" will become a horrible place, and the whole day will be a bust. Ugh.
When I'm In The Middle Of Nowhere And I Have To Bum A Diaper
For some reason I'm really good at packing everything for my kids — from snacks, to water, to toys and extra clothes, and wipes of all kinds — but I'll forget an essential, like diapers. I'll be at a park that took us twenty minutes to walk to, off-road, and my kid will have the stinkiest, nastiest diaper.
Yeah, the looks I'll get from other moms and nannies when I ask for a spare-diaper-please-because-I-am-desperate isn't, um, the best.
When I'm In The Car And I've Lost The Last Pacifier And There Is No Milk Left In The Baby Bottle
We are stuck in traffic, and the little one has thrown his pacifier out the window for all I know because I can't find it anywhere. Seriously, despite my amazing powers of flexibility that allow me to reach behind my own seat while still buckled, this thing is gone. He doesn't want to watch Finding Nemo on the DVD player anymore and he has refused to nap the entire way home. He was already in a crap mood from not having napped the whole day, he was up the whole night before, and I have a migraine from dealing with the aforementioned all-nighter. I was really looking forward to zoning out, or maybe even passing out while he napped and while my husband drove, but nope.
This kid is completely flipping out, asking for more "baba" but there is no more milk in his bottle. So, now we have to listen to him screaming, "Want baba! Want baba!" over and over and this is how I'm going to die. This 45 minute car ride will kill me, I just know it.
When My Partner Is Out Of Town And Both Kids Come Down With The Plague
It is precisely after my husband leaves to go out of town that, inevitably and without fail, both children become violently ill. I had been looking forward to catching up on my season of The Walking Dead, since my husband is not into zombies, but I guess I don't have to worry about that anymore. I mean, I've got all the gore I could ask for (and more) right in the comfort of my own home, thanks to the major puke fest currently happening. Can I get a freaking break? Please?
When My Kid Is The Only One At The Birthday Party Acting Sullen And Saying He Hates This Place
My son and I had been looking forward to this particular party all week. I was looking forward to catching up with the moms from school, and my son was excited to hang with his friends.
However, some sort of disturbance in "The Force" was felt en route to the party (which took an hour's drive to get to, by the way), and he became sullen and cranky. He decided he doesn't like the looks of the place, his best friend was being too friendly with someone else, and he was pretty sure the cake was going to be strawberry flavored (an unforgivable offense). As a result, I was stuck in the corner, held hostage with my son on my lap. When I tried to talk my son would yell over me because, "I wasn't allowed to talk to anyone." Some party.
When I've Yelled At My Kid In A Way That Wasn't Cool...
Sometimes I can see it happening as if I'm on the outside looking in, listening to an argument someone else is having with my 5-year-old son. He asks for something that's kind of unreasonable. I say no. He keeps persisting, because, well, he's five. I still say no. He doesn't relent, and I'm usually trying to get something done so I tell him, "You will have to wait." He tells me that if I don't do this right now, he will take off his pants, which is not ideal considering we need to get to school with pants on.
Then I lose it, and my voice takes on a tone that I remember not-so-fondly from my own childhood. My son will undoubtably end up saying, "I don't like your voice right now," which breaks my heart because, well, I don't like it that much either.
...Or When You're Kid Is The One Who Ends Up Schooling You
A week or so ago, my 5-year-old son couldn't sleep because he was worried about something in school. A requirement for second graders was a requirement my son couldn't fathom. Even though I assured him his worry was two years away, he had a hard time letting it go. Eventually I told him, "Why don't I take this worry off your shoulders and put it onto mine?" Which he really liked.
A few days after that, I'd flipped out on him for coloring on my very nice, not really washable couch. He knows how I feel about stains on my furniture, and he knew he'd done wrong and that I was really upset. Then, out of seemingly nowhere, he said, "Mom, let me take that worry off your shoulders and put it onto mine." That's when I realized it was just a stupid couch, and the mark wasn't really that bad. Blue crayon, sure, but I live in a house with two kids under five. My home is not a museum. Who really gives a crap?
When All I Want Is Two Minutes Alone On The Toilet But, Instead, I Get An Audience
Oh, I want to pee in peace? Cue two children barging into the bathroom with requests and complaints at the ready. Fix this! Do that! Peel me a cucumber! "You guys, can I just go to the bathroom in quiet? Please? And could you shut the door?" "Sure," they say. My oldest shuts the door, with him and his brother still inside the bathroom. They gather at my feet and look up at me, silently. Ugh.
When I Realize That I've Let The iPads Babysit My Children So I Could Get Work Done
When I realize that I've used the iPads as my babysitters, I feel like a failure and like I don't really deserve to be the mother of two very bright and inquisitive boys. I mean, who has children who decide, for fun, to create kid-size versions of their dad's office desk, so that they can do work and practice their letters and sight words?
When My Kids Poop In The Tub. Enough Said.
This is a typical humdinger of a parenting killer right here, and it almost always happens on one of "those days," when I've already been having "a day."
The kids have finally calmed down and are happily splashing in the tub. The 5-year-old is not taunting his little brother or tugging the pacifier out of his mouth, just for the hell of it. The 2-year-old toddler isn't filling his giant whale tub toy and gleefully pouring the water onto my bathroom floor. Things are quiet, and I'm folding laundry on the bathroom floor or cleaning hair out of brushes or trying to get something done while there's no fire to put out, and then I hear it. "Ew! Gross! Poop in the tub!"
The culprit himself starts freaking out and screaming, as if this is a complete shock to him. I have to grab both of them, put them in the standing shower (which they hate), and then throw all the bath toys aside to deal with later (while wearing a Hazmat suit). The poop is usually soft and disperses widely, and requires nothing short of a sieve to fish out. Of course, cleanup is something I cannot do until after the kids are in bed, because it would otherwise be far too fascinating and they would want to "help."
Of course, every single one of these moments is short lived. Eventually the desire to "give up" goes away, and I look at my two sweet boys and my imperfect mama self and decide that we're all OK. I know I'm doing a great job, mistakes and mishaps and everything else included, so I make a choice to keep doing this whole parenting thing. However messy, however gross, and however frustrating it may be, it's worth it.