If you’ve ever wondered if someone can feel simultaneously like an awesome parent and the worst parent in the world, I’m here to tell you that it’s possible. I don’t know how usual it is (probably more than I think or know) but it’s definitely possible. I’m living the dream right here.
Sometimes I plan these awesome adventures and I pack our bag just right and we have everything we need. Sometimes he cries and I know just how to hold him so that he doesn’t feel like it’s not ok to cry or to be sad. Sometimes he will say something like, “I made a choice to do that,” or “I felt frustrated when you did that,” and I will think: I made that. I made that articulate, aware, smart child. I am a *good* parent. Sometimes I will calmly follow through on a warning and set limits and keep them and I know that, dammit, I am doing this right. And I pat myself on the back and even feel a little bit smug.
Then sometimes, he is two and I am human and life happens and all of a sudden, I’m yelling. And he’s crying. And I feel guilty and he feels sad. And I’d like to say that the former happens much more often than the latter, but I’m not sure I’d be being honest if I said that. I think it’s 50/50 at best right now.
I hate losing it with him, but more than that, I hate feeling the kind of intolerance and frustration and anger that I seem to be feeling on a daily basis lately. Is this just the way it is when you’re a mostly stay-at-home mom of a toddler/preschooler? (In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that he goes to day care twice a week while I work/regain control of my sanity. But I will also let you know that many weeks, I am alone with him for four days and three nights in a row as my partner travels for work.)
Listen, if I knew that it was normal to feel like I feel as often as I do — if I knew that other mothers feel the same level of frustration and intolerance as regularly as I do — if I knew all of that, maybe I wouldn’t be so troubled by it. But mothers don’t talk about it in great detail. Mothers will say, “been there, done that” or they will say, “totally normal,” but they don’t ever say “I can’t stand being with my kid for another second today” or “What the hell did I get myself into and how can I get my old life back?” I can’t find anyone talking about it the way I want to hear about it.