I've worked since I was 14 or 15, so I'm no stranger to hard work and responsibility. When my partner and I found out that I was pregnant with our first child, I naturally assumed that parenting would be no match for me, because I had been working my ass off for most of my life. Of course, I was wrong. As every parent understands, parenting is by far the hardest job you'll ever have, and there will be times when your ability to be a parent will inevitably be questioned by some bystander, or even yourself.
No one that has ever raised another human has emerged from their journey unscathed. No one is a "perfect parent," though some might attempt to convince you otherwise. We all mess up. We all fall short of the unrealistic societal expectations places on mothers, and we also fall short of our own occasionally ludicrous expectations of what we think parenthood should actually be like. Failure is an inevitable part of parenthood, and while it can be difficult to come to terms with and work through, it's also (usually) helps us realign our expectations and our thinking.
We all have days when we don't want to parent anymore. Just because we feel fleeting moments of weakness and doubt, doesn't mean that we should have our entire parental journey unfairly questioned. Unfortunately, though, happens. Like, a lot. If you've made a parenting mistake or if you've ever had your aptitude as a parent unfairly judged or graded, that doesn't automatically mean you actually are a bad parent. It just means you're a human being. With that being said, here's ten times when your ability to parent will be questioned, whether by you or by someone else, and the big reason that it shouldn't be.
When You Miss An Event
I'm just now getting to the point when my sons have special events put on by their preschool, and I've already missed one. I missed my son's first Easter egg hunt at school, and though it probably might not seem like a big deal to most people, it felt like a major moment to me.
I had already missed days at work or come in late a number of times because of things related to my kids, so I didn't feel like I could reasonably justify hunting down plastic eggs with my son to my boss. Missing that event made me question whether or not I was doing the right thing by working full-time, though I didn't really have a choice.
When You Lose Your Temper
My boys are 15 months apart, so my hands are pretty much full all the damn time. While I'm glad my kids are close in age, because they've grown closer and closer with each passing month, their minimal age gap inevitably causes me a lot of stress. I try to be as patient as I can with them, but admittedly, I fall short and lose my temper at times. When I do, it makes me feel like maybe I'm in over my head and like maybe, just maybe, I don't have it all together like I thought I did.
When You Forget Important Information
I should probably know my kids' social security numbers by now, but I don't. I should probably know their pediatrician's phone number by heart, but I don't. I probably shouldn't get their birthdays mixed up so much or their field trip dates confused or their doctor's appointments scrambled, but I do. There's a lot of important information flying around, and I promise it's all written down somewhere, but sometimes, well, I forget.
When You Show Up Late Or Call Into Work
This is a big one for me. I hate looking like I can't handle the load that I've created. I hate saying no to anyone, whether it's my family or my coworkers, and I don't like seeming like I'm overwhelmed by the many working pieces of my life. Still, whether I like it or not, it happens. My last job was at a hospital, and though I volunteered for a lot of shifts outside of what was required, I still had to call in or come in late due to something unavoidable and usually involving my kids. I hate doing that, and I don't feel like I should have to apologize for prioritizing my family, but, you guessed it, I did.
When You Feel Constantly Overwhelmed
I don't think I'm alone in this boat. Being a parent is overwhelming, whether you're working outside of the home or not; whether you've got two kids or ten kids (though that certainly seems like it would be more overwhelming); whether you're financially on your feet or not. We might not all be the same, but I think occasionally being overwhelmed is a universal feeling for most parents.
When You Have A Mental Break Down
I have hit what I assumed was my "limit" on more than one occasion. There have been so many days when I've felt like I was drowning, and the only way to come up for air was to just let go of trying to control every aspect of our lives. Break downs aren't pretty, but they happen, and feeling like you've lost yourself in an abyss of chicken nuggets and toddler tantrums and dirty diapers doesn't make you a bad parent, it makes you human.
When You Haven't Slept In Weeks
Even the most optimistic, put together, and easy-going mother grows a little weary after not getting any sleep. I consider myself a pretty mellow person, but today I'm running on only a couple of hours of sleep, while still working and caring for two toddlers, and it makes want to scream and drink and overdose on Red Bull and hide in the bathtub behind the shower curtain so that I can catch just a few minutes of uninterrupted peace. Today, I feel like I'm hardly capable of meeting anyone's expectations, much less everyone's.
When You're Living Paycheck To Paycheck
Kids aren't cheap, y'all. I didn't realize exactly how much of our income would be soaked up by our toddlers at first, but when I do the budget every month, I'm made painfully aware of the numbers. My partner and I both work full time. We own our house and our cars, and there's always food on our table and gas in our tanks, but after we pay for all of these things, there never seems to be enough left over to feel like we can relax. Every month I feel like I say the same thing: "Next month will be better."
Yes, we're fortunate to have our health and our jobs and our kids, but sometimes, I'd like to just enjoy those things for once, instead of focusing on how we're going to pay for them all.
When Your Kids Are Acting Out
A public tantrum can make every parent feel like their hands are tied. No parent is immune to toddler theatrics, and those dramatics have a way of making us all feel like we're losing it.
When You Just Don't Want To Parent Anymore
You know what? Sometimes I just don't want to parent anymore. That sounds terrible, I guess, but it's the truth. Being a parent is exhausting and frustrating and nauseatingly stressful sometimes. It's by far the hardest job I've ever had, and I really don't think all the books and blogs in the world could have prepared me for all that parenthood entails.
Don't Doubt Yourself Though, Because No One Is Perfect
No matter how exhausted I might be; no matter how annoying I get when I have to repeatedly tell my toddler to stop spinning me in my office chair; no matter how incredibly frustrated I get while trying to cook supper with two kids hanging onto my ankles and demanding popcorn and chicken nuggets; no matter how badly I want to wave the white flag and surrender my mom card, I won't. Just because I feel like I'm failing, at times, doesn't mean I'm unworthy of motherhood. Just because I'm exhausted all the time, doesn't mean that I'm incapable of keeping up. Just because I'm frustrated, doesn't mean that I don't love my boys with every ounce of my being.
I'm not perfect, and neither are you. No one is, but that doesn't mean that our abilities to parent another person should be questioned. We wouldn't be so tired and frustrated and overwhelmed if we hadn't poured out every ounce of ourselves to our families in the first place, and that in itself is a good indication that we're more than fit to do this job.