Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Parenting is Hard, Bipolar or Not
I had pushed myself too hard on the treadmill the night before (I'm in that awkward stage where I'm really too fat to run, but too impatient to walk), so I woke up with with bad abdominal pain from aggravating some existing hernia issues. So, right there, things were bad. Then my three year old woke up acting as if she had been possessed by a demon sometime during the night, which was bad enough, but she also decided she was going to take the five year old down with her by baiting her into her own screaming tantrums. Throw in the normal morning crap -- the baby not wanting to eat, bright blue yogurt on the beige carpet, not wanting to brush hair, etc. etc., and I was a crying, hysterical mess by 9:45 a.m.
My morning dose of Xanax helped a little, and my mother coming over helped a LOT, but all day long I had overwhelming guilt issues. I should be able to handle this crap myself, shouldn't I? I mean, all moms have bad mornings, but they don't go crawling to the Xanax bottle or Grandma to get through. I hate that I can't grit my teeth and do my job (seeing as how being a full-time mom is my current job). I just could not pull myself together; I was crying, cursing, angry, and irritable. I hate my kids seeing me like that. Not to mention I'm much more likely to snap or yell at them, which I really hate. My five year old, especially, is very sensitive and gets very upset when she's yelled at.
And all day long, I kept thinking about this blog post I recently read from the website BlogHer (it's a blog directory that I can't exactly figure out the point of, but anyway) entitled No Excuses: Parenting Isn't Hard, which made me roll my eyes so hard I thought I sprained them. The author's point was that it's not "hard" to avoid yelling at your kids, grabbing them, getting in their faces when they do something wrong, and that people use the excuse that "parenting is hard" to explain yelling at and treating your kids poorly.
The analogy she bases her argument on is that if you were in a fast food restaurant and saw a man yell at a woman for spilling her drink, grab her by the arm, and drag her out the door, you would be appalled and maybe even say something. But if you see a mother do that to a kid, it's just "life as usual." And while I agree with her that it's never okay to abuse a kid (if you consider that kind of behavior abuse, which I kind of think is up for debate), her point that it shouldn't be "hard" to not yell at your kids, to always treat them lovingly, not not lose your temper -- all because they are "small, dependant people" and we love them so much that (in her words) we should want to "snatch [them] up and squeeze [them] to bits in a fit of overly-emotional love-smush."
I won't even get into why the analogy is faulty to begin with, or how ridiculous the phrase "love-smush" is. I'll just deal with the general argument. Now, I probably have more irritability issues than a normal person, but I think the idea that it's "easy" to not lose your temper with your kid just because you love them so much is a tad...freaking insane.
Of course I love my kids. Even on mornings like yesterday, I love them. But I admit, I don't always like to be around them. And yeah, I lose my temper and yell -- but it's not because I don't love them, it's because I can only take so much. When I tell three year old to take her yogurt to the kitchen because the baby was going to get and spill it, leave the room, and two minutes later hear the five year old yelling that the baby spilled the yogurt because the three year old didn't move it, these children that I love are incredibly, unavoidably frustrating. And, oh my God, parenting is the HARDEST job I have ever done. No, it's not complicated; no, it's not intellectually taxing (usually). But it's intense, and it's exhausting, and it never ends.
Am I crazy (well, crazier than I thought)? Am I in the minority? Do most people think that parenting isn't hard? Is there something wrong with me that I'm not constantly overcome with the desire to "love-smush" my children? Is this attitude another side effect of my bipolar disorder, and should I just crawl back to my mind-numbing meds?
Somehow, I suspect if you took an informal poll of moms, most of them would say that, at least at different times, being a parent is hard. But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm the one who is flawed. If so, I guess I'd better call and get my psychiatrist to up my Xanax dosage, because hard or not, parenting is one job you don't have the choice to resign from.