There is a lot of prep and excitement around the birth of a baby.
For some, becoming pregnant is as easy as a good sneeze. For others, it can take years, tests, treatments and many tears. Whether you are expecting through birth or adoption, you love that child with a deep, unquenchable commitment. The moment you know you will become a parent, massive amounts of nesting and planning begin. There are showers to be organized, registries to fill, nurseries to paint, projects to be completed, classes to take and hormones to manage. Preparing for a baby is a lot like preparing for marriage; during engagement you are consumed by the wedding day plans.
Becoming a parent or a spouse is a pivotal life event that allows another human being into your space. Sharing your home, your room, your world, your womb with another person is a big adjustment. Pre-marital counseling and birthing classes can get you ready for the big day but, they do very little to adequately prepare you for the ever after.
When I was a fiancée, family and friends projected their hopes and optimism all over my wedding and I took it in like a fresh glass of lemonade on a hot day. I was head over heals for the man who would become my husband; he was going to be my everything for the rest of our lives. I admit, I had Hollywood expectations that my marriage would be Oscar-worthy. We’d have real life movie love. It’s safe to say it was an unrealistic ideal. Surprise - jazz hands! - marriage is not full of, "You had me at hello," moments. Marriage is hard work and after 14 years, I’ve learned it’s better to go all in for the good, the bad and the ugly.
I had similar expectations when I dreamt about motherhood.
My baby showers were chock full of sweet advice, oohs and ahs, and everything was tiny and cute. No one told me that by year three of knowing my child, I would want to send him back to whatever deceptive hell he came from. I honestly felt like I was being Punk'd when my kid began talking back and acting out when things weren't going his way. No one thinks their child will be “that kid” which is just a big fat lie we tell ourselves. What happened to my cuddly, giggly baby that depended on me for everything; the sweet child with eyes of wonder after discovering his belly button? I was never fully prepared for my child to suck the patience out of me like a Dyson vacuum.
My children have brought the ugly out of me many times.
They have pushed my heart into dark places I never imagined it could go. There are times I don't want to be around my children. They are little humans with opinions and perspectives and reputations; and to be honest, our personalities clash a lot. I wonder sometimes how it’s possible these little people came from my own DNA. It’s my responsibility to teach them how to be kind, compassionate, and good, all while navigating the joys and frustrations of childhood and puberty. There are plenty of days I can’t deal with another tantrum over the consistency of the chicken I cooked for dinner, or won’t entertain an argument over the color of a pair of shoes I bought.
I raise a glass when summer is over and my kids go back to school. I’m simply a better mom when I don’t have to be with my children 24/7.
Motherhood brings daily stresses.
The truth is I just don’t like my kids all the time and I can’t talk about it to other moms. I have dipped my toe in the conversation waters to see if other moms feel the same way I do and yes, most moms agree they are tired, exhausted really, from packing lunches and dealing with the not-so-Common Core homework. But they never admit to not liking their kids sometimes. God has given me these little people to train, teach and love but sometimes I don’t want the job anymore. And I wish another mom would say it back to me.
All moms have a Mama Bear instinct to protect children from anything or anyone threatening to steal innocence. I have it for my kids, and I would never hesitate to give my life for them but that doesn’t mean I like them every day. Maybe this is why I never feel like I can share my parenting struggles.
If I were struggling in my marriage, I would get nods of agreement, hugs of encouragement and invitations to happy hour. Why is it ok to talk about the crap in my marriage but never my parenting struggles? Shouldn't I be ferociously protecting the sacred commitment of my marriage as much as I protect my children? Why do women continue to be so judgmental of other women; and why are moms the worst offenders?
Newsflash, we are all flawed and broken. I'm not asking for permission to rage on parenting, and I don’t regret having my children. I just want to share my brokenness, hurts and struggles with freedom – and without judgment.
And, by the way, I’m not a bad mother because I don’t like my kids sometimes. Because even when I don’t like them, I will always love them.
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