I feel like it's very easy for someone who has never been a parent, to judge anyone who admits they have thought or fantasized about running away from their children. Obviously actually running away is another story, but thinking about it? I feel like that's allowed when you're a parent. Everything you do in service of your children, home, and family, comes at a price to your own ambitions, pride, and even identity. When I asked moms about the one time they wanted to quit parenting, a lot of them found the exercise difficult, only because there were so many times they wanted to quit parenting.
None of them ever did and none of them ever would, but in the darkest throes of every child-rearing struggle, it's easy for all of us to remember the time before we had all this responsibility on our shoulders; a time when all this every second of every minute of every hour of every day, never-ending, emotionally exhausting responsibility wasn't a thing. That's what makes it so draining, right? It just never stops. Even when they're sleeping. First of all: come on. It's a rookie move to figure your kid is going to stay asleep in the first place. Even if they do sleep through the night, you know that eight hours (tops) is not going to be nearly enough time to completely recharge at the end of each day. Honestly, it's not our kids we want to quit, it's being a parent.
So, in the name of honesty and complete solidarity, here are some moments that made 15 moms want to throw in the towel.
"The first three weeks with my first son had me questioning myself and whether I had made a mistake becoming a mom. I thought I was prepared but adjusting to breastfeeding, a baby with reflux, and not sleeping really got to me. I probably had some baby blues on top of everything, too. I didn't feel a connection with the baby right away and I feared that I had made a mistake and that maybe I wasn't cut out to be a mom. But then there was a moment when it all hit me and I realized the little guy depended on me, and that's when I knew that all was right in the world and I was exactly where I was meant to be. Being a first time parent is hard and can make even the strongest moms feel like running for the hills."
"My son is 12 days old and I'm still in the panicky, 'Oh my god I have to keep this pace up forever?!' phase. People are assuring me it gets easier, but right now between the 2-3 hour feedings and trying to make sure I'm doing all the things (talk to the baby! sing to the baby! tummy time! hind milk!) it's utterly overwhelming. Right now my version of wanting to run away is hoping to take like four hours sometime this week and going to get a Starbucks and going to the post office."
A stomach bug with infant twins and a three year old made me want to give up!
"My sick 5-year-old [daughter] had me up all night. I walked out into the kitchen at 6 a.m. and stepped in dog pee. The kid then walked out and sneezed all over herself, and me! This was today, but I still love being her mom!"
"When my daughter was 3-months-old, I packed up my stuff and was ready to leave. She was a hard baby with extreme colic and GERD, torticollis, and a few other things. That day she had been screaming for six hours straight. This was not unusual, but it broke me that day. I wound up crying hysterically in the shower for 20 minutes instead of leaving. Parenting is hard."
Is 'every single day' an acceptable answer?
"Within hours of her birth. I didn't feel a magical bond, I was in a ton of pain, and I was holding this screaming infant whom I didn't know, who wouldn't latch, and who refused to be comforted. I took her crying as a rejection of me and it all felt very personal, so my emotional reaction was, 'F*ck you. I don't want you, either.' It passed pretty quickly, I adore my daughter, but that first introduction was rough."
There was at least one moment everyday of the first three months where I wanted to run away... and those were the better days. ... Always ask for help— from your doctor, from family, from friends.
"Every Sunday morning trying to get ready for church. It is 100 times harder than any other outing."
"Christmas shopping in the mall three years ago my son threw a freakin' fit and I took something away from him and all hell broke loose. Seriously, I wanted to throw in the towel and cry. My husband came home a few hours later and I had a glass of wine (or maybe two) and took a few deep breaths and got my sh*t together."
Any time a diaper blowout happened or there is puke to clean up.
"Whenever my husband is a lazy ass I want to quit. Like, I'll be juggling three kids and a dinner on the stove while he's fiddling around with something on his phone and I think, 'Wow. That must be nice. Maybe I should just quit, too. I guess I didn't get the memo that it's OK to be selfish and lazy as a parent. I must be a sucker.'
We're working on it."
At the end of the day when I'm just tired, and she's still looking at me wanting attention..... It's not terrible, but the feeling is there. But she's only three months old. I'm sure we'll have our moments in the future.
"I don't think I've ever wanted to run away. I dreamed my whole life about being a mom, and I knew it'd be hard (I remember some of what we put my mother though). I've had days that were f*cking awful, where I've said to myself 'I can't do this anymore!' But for me it's been more of a collapse on the floor and sob, moaning, 'Just go the f*ck to sleep! Both of you! I feel like I've been awake for four years!' or, 'Put on some f*cking shoes! I don't even care if they fit or match!' and/or I have a drink until I come up with a way to dig myself out of the despair hole. I would say that my instinct has been fight not flight. I wanted this, I can't give up, it's never been an option, even when the going is beyond rough (like those three years where my body was broken [due to chronic illness]). Also, I'd like to thank Prozac. And my support networks. And 'school.'"