When you don’t have kids, you think you know what kind of parent you would be. And you honestly believe that you’d be that parent- until you actually have a child.
I know I am not the mother that I had planned on being. Not in some ways anyways. You think you know yourself until you have kids but you don’t, you can’t, because you change as a person when you have a child. Even more so when you have a second child (much more when you have a second child). You have to be re-introduced to this new version of yourself, which for me, was in some ways pretty scary.
When I became a mother, I lost my patience and gained a new voice. A voice that, every now and then, yells. I had no intentions of yelling and lately I try hard not to, but sometimes it just sneaks out. I’m a pretty mild mannered person, at least I thought I was, but it turns out the joke was on me! Since becoming a mother, my appearance has also changed. I’m not talking about widened hips, a belly pooch or the permanent bags under my eyes. I’m talking about the way I can distort my face. When I’m pissed off, I give my kids this look that I swear resembles that of a hungry lion. A look that I never knew I could make 6 years ago. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have been able to make it even if I tried. Even after 4 Smirnoff Ice coolers. Now I find myself praying the wind doesn’t change so my face doesn’t stay like it.
If my pre-parent self could see me now, I fear she’d be disappointed. And you know what? I’d have a few choice words for her judgmental ass. I’d tell her she had NO clue what she was talking about. Sure, it’s easy enough to say you’d never give your kids sugar too early in the morning and that an iPad would never enter their hands. But the reality is, there are days when your kids have sugar for breakfast because that’s the only thing mommy is serving. And that iPad you swore you wouldn’t let your child touch has been used as a babysitter more times than you can count because for the love of all things holy you needed 10 minutes to yourself to relax, breath and regain composure. That iPad can be a lifesaver. End of story.
I recently saw a meme on Facebook that implied you are not officially a parent until you have given your child the middle finger behind his or her back. I cracked up laughing because I have done this. More than once. I have jumped around my kitchen waving both middle fingers enthusiastically in the air at the back of my child’s 5 year old head. It felt good- a stress reliever in a way- which is why I’ll probably do it again. The pre-parent me probably would have said ‘no, I would NEVER ever do that’, thinking to myself ‘what kind of parent would DO that’? Well, it turns out, I would. I am the type of parent who would do that. Surprised? I surprised myself when I did it but trust me, the shock value wears off fast.
There are those who have flipped their child the bird before and won’t admit it. There are those who have done it and are snickering right now (right sis?) and there are those who haven’t done it before but now, after reading this blog, may give it a try. Of course there will be those who will judge me for this action. But trust me, no one can judge me harder than I judge myself. I find myself crying some evenings after the kids have gone to bed because I am overcome with guilt over not being the mother I want to be. For not handling situations the way I wish I had. For having good intentions that fail. Contrary to how this post makes it seem, I am not a monster who flips her children the bird and snarls at them all the time. I am simply a mother trying her best. A mother who loves her kids, does everything for them, but gets overwhelmed and tired and wore down after being told one too many times that I’m mean for asking for teeth to be brushed before bed. Or being told by my child that he doesn’t like me because I turned off the video game he was playing. I try to stay calm. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I break. And those are the moments I regret. When I yell or curse or say something I don’t mean out of pure frustration and then get slapped in the face with the reality that I am no better than the child I am trying to discipline. Cue guilt. Tears, you’re up!
It’s hard not to get frustrated when every time I turn around there is fighting, one punched the other because the other tripped him up. They both want the same red marker when there are 412 red markers in the bag. While one slams a door, the other one cries. While hugging one to comfort him, the other says ‘you love him more than me’. I can’t keep up. I can’t win.
I know I’m not the only one feeling this way. But most times, it certainly feels like it is. I’ve often gone looking for support in my Mommy FB groups. We’ve all been there (or maybe we haven’t, but I’d like to think we have)….we make a post to vent about how crappy our day was and then we sit and wait to see if anyone liked our post, or better yet commented that they can relate. Maybe they had a crappy day too, heck maybe it was even worse than yours! That’s all you need is one person who ‘gets it’ and you feel less alone. But if 2 minutes have passed and no one has liked or commented, you take that post down because then you feel guilty for exposing yourself like that and admitting that you feel like a crappy parent and you wonder how many people have read it and think you are crazy? This has happened to me, I swear.
All it takes is talking to a few of my real (non-Facebook) mommy friends and my sister (who totally gets it) and I am reassured that there are in fact others like me who are just trying to be the best they can be….. even if they find they disappoint themselves every now and then. It happens. What’s most important is that we brush ourselves off, wipe away our tears, put down our middle finger and try again.