There are days when I don’t like being a mother. There, I said it. Shh… I don’t think that any of us who raise children are supposed to say it out loud.
But there it is in black and white – I don’t like my maternal role 24/7.
Does this make me a bad mother? Am I a fundamentally flawed human for even thinking this letting alone writing it? Am I someone who should actually open up a savings account specifically for my children’s use for therapy later on in life – like starting next week? I may be all of the above but I am quite confident that I am not alone.
I don’t think it’s natural to enjoy parenting every moment that one is required to do it.
On those days dominated by logistics, homework help and frustrated kids who hate every vegetable bathed with every sauce I cook up. Seriously, there are days when my children act as if broccoli was cyanide and that by cajoling them to eat it and other greens that I am trying to kill them. Don’t they know that the reverse is true; that it is they who are tasked with trying to kill me as they rebel into independent individuals?
On those days… when my eldest calls to tell me someone bumped into him in a parking lot and I am reminded that his car is still in my name. Sure, I still love my children then – but it’s more of an abstract kind of love. It’s the type of love that restrains me from actually taking a whack at one or all of the kids. In my book – and in the eyes of the law as I read it — good parents only think about beating their children, bad parents actually do so.
On those days, when the tween and her ‘yup-you’re-getting-a-surge-of-testosterone’ little brother try my patience, call each other – and me sometimes — names, refuse to take their vitamins and are just plain annoying in every way, I grow weary and long to take my laptop, my coffee and hide… in another state.
Frankly, while motherhood sounds noble, many of its requirements are quite dull. So, I work on being patient and loving even in the face of the banality of cajoling children to brush their teeth, while packing their lunches, etc, etc, etc…. day after day, after school day and summer camp day and even vacation days is the redundant reality of motherhood which is at best banal and at worst a scream-filled nightmare. I breathe deeply, drink herbal tea and think about cocktail hour – sometimes all at once, even at the breakfast table.
I cannot be the only mother who has thought of shaving her daughter’s head while desperately trying to comb out knots as the child screams out so dramatically that a passerby might think I am actually beating her rather than merely trying to get out the knots I warned her would form if she didn’t brush her dang hair. Talk about no satisfaction in being right.
And what about carpool? Carpool it is a large part of motherhood in most modern cities and it is neither noble, nor satisfying, nor loving. Carpool is tedium writ large with traffic and badly behaving, hypocritical, ‘be-polite-tyke-but-ignore-my expletive-and-horn-plagued-traverse-through-our-route’ other parents, nannies and relatives forced to chauffeur kids. I know that all of us wish self-driving cars that could ferry progeny were a reality despite what one can learn from overhearing backseat chatter amongst siblings and friends. Seriously, even when the kid gossip is juicy, shuttling the kids from school to the dentist or to the enrichment activity du jour is just not the intellectual highlight of my day.
Like all jobs, motherhood is work. And, like all work, there are aspects of the role that are rote to the point of soul crushing. I am convinced that admitting this does not make me a bad person– it just means that I’m an honest parent. Or, am I merely justifying myself even though my humanity card is being torn up as I write. Because there are parts of every job – and parenting is a job, even if you feel called to do it by a higher power or purpose – that are simply heinous. Like the ones that cause sleep deprivation because, frankly, I love my children more during the daylight hours especially after a good night’s sleep.
I did not get a good night’s sleep last night.
My daughter has a middle ear infection and thus, I have dark circles under my eyes. The infection came on suddenly and kept both of us up most of the night – she slept more than I did as sleep is an aerobic activity for the child and thus sharing a bed with her means that I must remain semi-conscience lest I get karate-chopped off the bed onto the floor. I cared for my helpless little girl. I gave her medication, and rocked her to sleep as the medicine lessened her pain so that she could rest at least until the doctor’s office opened.
I loved her and wished that I could’ve taken all her pain away. I would have rather my ear ached than hers. But I also wished that she was well and not just because she’ll miss a grammar quiz and day of school but because of the effect her illness will have on my schedule. I would’ve preferred sleep to mothering in the middle of the night. I wish I had slept so that I could be more efficient at my work as my daughter naps.
I hope that by being forthright about my maternal feeling that I can facilitate a more honest conversation about this essential but not always enjoyable role and that you will share your thoughts with me and other fretters, freely. Now, I’m off for another cup of coffee – lest I fall asleep at the wheel when I pick up my younger son at carpool.