When it comes to parenting, I try to keep it real. I'm very open about the fact that, for me, having kids is one of the best things I've ever done and I love the life I've created with my family. But I try really hard to emphasize that it's not the only road to happiness, it's not for everyone, and it's not always pretty. In fact, there are lots of times I wanted to quit parenting. And it's not that I ever seriously would, but I seriously wanted to.
Parenting is hard, people. And on top of that, it's constant. I mean, you never get to not be a parent. Not really, anyway. And no matter how much you love something, if you do it 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, there are going to be times when you wish you could just not do it for a few goddamn minutes. At least.
From general difficulties to specific instances (albeit with universal themes I feel most parents can connect to) I've taken stock of the times when I wanted to throw in the towel, as well as the ways that I managed to keep it together because, seriously, that's a solid 60 percent of what parents do: keep it all together all the time. The other 40 percent is mostly divided between dealing with body functions and Disney cartoons.
I share my own personal almost-but-not-quite-quitting moments for a couple reasons. Hopefully, as parents, we can look back on those moments together and laugh. And, of course, to let other moms who've wanted to quit know that they're not alone.
Randomly During The First 15 Months Of My Children's Lives For No Particular Reason
Does one need a reason in the infant months? It's just a lot to deal with and all of it is new and you don't know WTF you're doing, and there's nothing I hate more than feeling like I don't know what I'm doing. Seriously, I once quit my job at the local movie theater rather than admit the popcorn machine intimidated me.
How I Didn't Quit: It's frowned upon. Also I was too tired to do anything.
When Solid Food Diapers Became A Thing
My kids were breastfed and breastfed diapers, while numerous and messy are manageable. They're sort of funny, to be honest. Bright yellow, seedy looking poop that smells like bread. But once those little ones start eating big people food, they start making big people poops and no. NO!
How I Didn't Quit: Closed my eyes and thought of England. Oh, and I also tried to trick my husband into doing as many of them as humanly possible.
Every Bedtime From 2012-2013
Look at him. So adorable. So peaceful. At almost 7 this little guy is a bedtime champ. He goes to bed quietly and without complaint, and sleeps through the night in his own bed. You know when that wasn't true? The solid year of his life when bedtime was a task so soul-crushing I basically cried about it every day.
How I Didn't Quit: I somehow convinced myself every day of that year that "tonight is the night it's going to be different." It wasn't... until it was.
Any Time I Was Awake At 3:00 A.M.
I'm not 25 anymore and I have no interest in being up that late. I mean why when you could be in your pajamas at home? But, apparently, babies don't give a you-know-what when they're hungry.
How I Didn't Quit: I reminded myself that their brains needed breast milk as much as their tummies and dreamed of the day those big smart brains would win a Nobel Prize or something.
When I'm on vacation without my kids (which is a thing I do) I think to myself: "Every day could be like this? What kind of sucker am I that I have chosen parenthood over sitting by the beach and drinking mojitos?!"
How I Didn't Quit: I reminded myself that, in fact, that's not every day for just about anyone, and it certainly wouldn't be every day for me without kids.
Any Time I've Had To Be Awake At 5:00 A.M.
This is almost worse than having to be up at 3:00 a.m., to be honest, because at least then you usually get to go back to sleep for a while. Once a kid is up at 5:00 a.m. they're up for the damn day. Ummm... I chose to be a parent, not a damn farmer! What is this madness?!
How I Didn't Quit: I usually turn on the TV and sleep on the couch while Elmo parents my children and I'm not sorry.
That One Time At The Bronx Zoo
So this picture is not from that day. This picture is from the year earlier. My son begged to go back regularly, so my husband and I finally took him. And do you know how he responded? He pitched perhaps the most massive tantrum of his life for 45 minutes, because he didn't want to go after begging to go again for a year. And of course we had other family members with us, so it was frustrating and embarrassing.
How I Didn't Quit: Honestly, I remembered the first time we went and how much fun it was. Sometimes you just have to draw on the good times to get you through the bad.
Because I have to prepare three separate dinners, people. THREE. Because no one will eat the same foods. I used to have a couple dishes that I could manage to give everyone but, one by one, they have been deemed "disgusting" but at least one member of my family. It's super demoralizing.
How I Don't Quit: Wine helps, I'm not going to lie.
That Time My Potty-Trained Daughter Wet Her Pants When We Were Out With My Boss
I work remotely, and the first time I met my boss was at a family outing to a New York museum. My daughter, who has had maybe five potty accidents since being potty trained in a weekend (I won't complain there: #blessed) decided today was the day she was going to pee her pants. And, because this was so out of the ordinary for her, of course we didn't have a change of clothing. All I could find was a Survivor buff that kept riding up and exposing her buttcheeks. (My boss later supplied a pair of pants because she had her sh*t together.)
How I Didn't Quit: Having a kind and understand boss who didn't make it a thing.
When I Got Sick
A year ago I was stricken by a mystery illness that primarily manifested as severe asthma. I didn't (and don't) know what was wrong with me and I found myself couch-bound a lot, which is not compatible with two small children. So on top of feeling like hell, which made me want to quit parenting (and everything that wasn't curling up into fetal position), I also wanted to quit because I felt like I was failing my children and they deserved someone better.
How I Didn't Quit: Lots of pep talks from my husband and (finally) aggressively pursuing medical treatment.
When This Face Happens
I mean... look at it. You know sh*t is going to go down.
How I Don't Quit: I mean... look at it. It's adorable.
This is a low-key want to quit, but they just take a lot of energy for very little pay-off. And that's if you can go outside. Sometimes you can't and it's just dealing with whiny kids bouncing off the walls or allowing far too much screen time.
How I Don't Quit: Remind myself that spring is just around the corner, even when it's not.
When I Mess Up
Because it happens a lot, right? At least I feel like we all feel it does. We lose our tempers. We clonk the baby's head on the car door. We're late picking up from daycare again. Or someone else makes us feel as if we've messed up even when we're probably doing just fine. Being a mom can be amazing (yes, in spite of the items on this list) but it's a lot to live up to, sometimes to the point that that it's impossible to meet our expectations. And because we love our kids so much we think, "OK. I should just quit because, clearly, I'm failing."
How I Don't Quit: I remind myself that messing up is not failing, and if you're worried about messing up then, trust me, you're probably not failing.