I began my parenting journey like most parents do- bright eyed and bushy tailed, believing I would have angelic children who never did the horrible things other children do, and would be brilliant and talented and would grow up to be concert pianist surgeons who speak ten languages. You know, the standard stuff.
I believed (well, most of the time) that I would be the perfect parent who was nothing but loving and attentive all the time, no matter what. The kind of parent who had wonderful relationships with all of her equally wonderful children. In short, we all start off being embarrassingly naïve and having no clue what we’re doing.
My kids are now 6, 4, and 2 so I’ve had a little time to reflect and laugh at myself and be honest about where I started and how far I’ve come and, of course, how incredibly far I still have to go. Now, this is NOT going to be one of those sappy posts that end with the tear jerking “my kids make it all worth it. I love them so much!”
Let’s get real for a second.
I love my kids. They’re beautiful and funny and smart. They’re wonderful and YES, they are worth it.
Parenting is SUPER hard, y’all! I mean, like ridiculously hard. Before you have kids, you hear people say that and you believe them. You know it will be hard. But the word “hard” is kind of inadequate when talking about parenting. And don’t even get me started on the pregnancy and labor part… Sheesh.
Yes, we love our kids, but some days you just want to curl up in the fetal position and disappear.
I do not drink alcohol. At all. It is a personal and religious choice that I do not regret. But I have a lot of mom friends who do, and they all tell me the only way they survive parenting is with lots and lots of wine. For me, it’s Lindt chocolate and ice cream. Separately, of course (Most of the time). But I digress.
There are things you hear people say that you cannot fully comprehend until you actually have kids. But there is also a lot of stuff that you don’t hear. Things most moms won’t tell you. Things that are too hard or too embarrassing or too personal to admit in public. Everyone probably has their own list, but I thought I’d share a few of mine with you today.
- Mommy rage is a real thing. And it’s horrible. I promise you, it will happen at some point. You WILL lose your…you know what. You will look at that precious little face, and you will just want to smack it. Like I said, there are things that are hard to admit, but they’re true. Kids will do every single thing in their power to drive you past the edge of your sanity to a place where it is almost impossible to control yourself. And you will fail. And you will feel horrible. You will vow to never let yourself get that mad at your child again. And I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but you will fail. Failing is part of life. What’s important is what you do afterward. Be prepared to fail again and again, but learn to forgive yourself. We’re all human. We all have faults and we all have limits. Learn to apologize to your kids. This is hard for me for some reason. But I try REALLY hard to do it anyway. And I always feel better for it.
- You WILL turn into your parents. And it’s not a bad thing. This one is hard for people for some reason. We always hear people talking about opening their mouths and hearing their mother come out, and we talk about it like it’s this horrible thing. For me, this has actually been a good thing. I had a fairly difficult childhood. Nothing too crazy or horrible by most standards, but my dad was in the military and we moved around a lot. It was extremely difficult to keep friends back in the days when we only had email and snail mail and I was just a little kid besides. I spent a lot of very lonely years playing alone in my room. And then my parents got divorced when I was 13. This was very difficult for me and there are some things that took me a very long time to process and get over. I never had a super stellar relationship with my dad and there were a lot of things I didn’t (and COULDN’T at 13 or 18 or even 25) understand. Not until I had kids of my own. You see, I’m much more like my dad than I am my mom. We deal with stress in very similar ways and express ourselves similarly. And I got his temper. For sure. (See item #1) As a child I couldn’t understand his reactions to certain things or the way he handled certain situations. But NOW… I understand him SO much better. I view those memories in a completely different light because I have dealt with similar situations in similar ways, whether good or bad. So for me, at least, becoming more like my dad has actually helped me to be a better daughter AND a better mother. I have forgiven him for things I once thought unforgiveable and feel much more love for him as a result. And I can be a better mother because this process and these realizations I’ve had, help me to have a better perspective on stressful situations and my own reactions to them. For me, I believe that if I didn’t sometimes remind myself of my father, I would struggle more to forgive myself for my shortcomings. I try to take the good and the bad, be honest with myself, forgive myself, and be better than I was yesterday.
- Sometimes you don’t like your kids. And that’s okay. Right now, and for quite a while, actually, I have struggled with liking my oldest child. I love her. But sometimes I don’t like her. She is ALWAYS grouchy. She has a horrible attitude and is rude to me and her sisters CONSTANTLY. And she whines a LOT. I HATE whining. Every day I tell myself that I’m going to have a better day with her. I won’t yell, we’ll have great conversations, I’ll talk softly to her no matter what. And almost every day I fail. (See items 1 and 2) I want so desperately to improve things, but it is REALLY hard. She just pushes all of my buttons all the time! But here’s the thing. I love her. A lot. That never changes, no matter how frustrated I am with her. Sometimes I don’t like her. But I always love her. Whenever I am struggling, I try to cling to that and just hang on. Because it’s ok not to like her sometimes. It doesn’t make me a bad person or a bad mother. It makes me a normal human being. I can’t think of a single person that I like 100% of the time. Sometimes I don’t even like my husband. I hardly ever like other drivers on the road. It’s ok.
So those are my big three. Whether you’re just starting on your parenting journey or you’re an old pro, we all struggle. We all have shortcomings that we hope never see the light of day. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Forgive yourself. Try your best and be better tomorrow.
What about you? Do you have struggles that are difficult to admit to? How do you deal with them? I’d love for you to leave your message in the comments!