A dear, dear friend called today. (She's a mother to a four-month-old and a three-year-old, and she stays home with her kids AND runs a business out of her home. She's a rock star.) She's having a great day. Truly awesome. She might run stark-raving mad through the streets of her town.
She started our phone conversation like this:
"Do you ever get really, really angry and frustrated? With your kids, your husband?"
Because she is a dear, dear friend, she knew the answer before she even reached for the phone. But she dialed just the same because she needed to hear a resounding,
Three years ago, Henry was just five-months-old and Abby was three. Hubby was MBA-bound and therefore not home-bound (I proudly took that role)**. As a result, I spent many solo days, nights, weeks and weekends with my children. Some of those endless stretches proved to be exceptionally maddening. One January evening, after sending Abby and Henry off to slumberland,I sunk into the couch with a rotund pour of Cabernet Sauvignon. The digital picture frame illuminated the dark room with happy photos of my children. As each photo flickered by, the tears began to pour down my very tired face. This thought train accompanied my tears:
"I don't even remember those smiling moments. I'm ruining my children. I am a horrible mother. I didn't enjoy them today. I circumvented and navigated and orchestrated...but I did not enjoy. Aren't I supposed to always enjoy them?" Then, the guilt started punching me around. LOTS of guilt. Lots of punching. Defeat snuck in there and had her hand with me. I realized with a nauseous jolt that I’d been wishing away minutes with these sweet (yet terrorizing, noise-producing, maddening, exhausting) children because I was tired. Done.
And here's the kicker: I thought my feelings were novel.
Then, through the haze of tears and wine, another thought throttled forward:
"Other mothers MUST share these feelings. I cannot be the first mother in all of motherhood to experience these raw frustrations."
Whew. During that epiphany, my voice materialized. I decided to regularly expose myself and my lovely imperfect messes here. And in so doing, I hoped to spare other moms from some personal lambasting, guilt and agony.
I try to stay buoyant in the ordinary extravagances that moments with my children present. Because I know, in a flash, I will throttle back and trip over Lego's, employ timeouts and referee screaming matches. It is from this precarious perch from which I parent.
**Hubby and I mutually decided that he should get his MBA. We both signed up for the rigors of an executive program. We mentally prepared, budgeted for babysitters, girls' nights out and the occasional bottle of wine. I continue to applaud both of us for allowing him to achieve his goal--and reaching it with our marriage stronger than when we started.