2/16/09

what we don't talk about...


when it comes to parenting it's funny what we don't speak aloud. we don't want to talk about how hard it is being a parent. sure, we'll talk about the shiny stuff, the gloss of parenting; good things, the accomplishments. we'll talk about how hard labor was. that is the fun stuff, it's the woman's equivalent to the testosterone filled locker room and shooting the shit bar talk. we gather around listening to latest tale being told, laughing, nudging the friend next to us "can you believe that?" nodding in agreement that we have all been through this together. a special club.


but after the labor tales and the shiny stuff, the heavenly choirs stop singing and real life kicks in. very few of us want to discuss how hard the rest of the day-to-day mommyhood is. the things that make us want to poke our eyes with a dull pencil and run shrieking out into the night never to be heard from again.

if we talk about this, the mood in the locker room changes. no longer are we laughing and shaking our heads in agreement. we now nudge the person next to us shaking our heads in judgement and say "what a horrible mom." and we lie to ourselves "not my johnny or suzy. they would never talk back, have bad grades, throw a fit in the middle in of the grocery store." we don't want to admit it's not all easy and shiny.


on saturday, on a day we are suppose to celebrate love, i felt like the worst mom ever. my kids broke me down and ground me up. i had had enough of everything, their needs and wants, their constant bickering, walking away mumbling behind my back. it was all too much and i cried in front of them, while yelling, which is such an ugly combination. all the frustration coming up in a tsunami wave of grief and anger. i hate crying, especially in front of them. i can only name one other time i have done it. i feet weak and like i'm guilt tripping them into being good for a few hours at most. maybe it's a good thing for them to see, maybe it's a good thing to admit. i'm not sure. i do feel like everyone is judging and that my membership to mommyhood is seriously in question right about now.


32 comments:

Mayberry Magpie said...

I truly believe you haven't been a mom unless you've lost your shit in front of your kids. Don't get me wrong . . . I'm not advocating the Mommy Dearest approach to mothering. But if they don't know how hard it is, how much emotion and passion it evokes, how much is at stake by your reaction, how will they be equipped to ever raise their own kids?

I will never forget when my Kate was six. She went through a terrible back-talking phase and she got really good at pushing my buttons. One day she smarted off then turned on her heels and walked out of the room, and I lost it. I threw the remote control as hard as I could at the back of her quickly retreating head. It missed her by a millimeter and it scared and stunned the shit out of her. And me. But I'm pretty sure she learned that day that her mother is invested in her behavior and she can't push emotional buttons for the sake of pushing buttons.

Crying is a sign of humanity. It's normal and cathartic and healing. Don't feel weak. Feel human. And amazingly invested in your family. All moms have the right to have a bad day. And holidays are the worst because we put so much pressure on ourselves to make them "perfect."

Jennifer said...

I don't have children, but most of my friends do. My very best friends are able to share with us how very difficult mothering sometimes is. It is because of these women, and women like you and Magpie, women who tell the truth, that I felt better prepared to become a mother. (It didn't happen. Long story.) It bugs me that any woman would judge another for telling it like it is. And I don't trust women who tell me motherhood is all rainbows and candy.
I'm sorry you had a crummy weekend. I hope the sun comes out again for you soon.

MeadowLark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SaintTigerlily said...

As a reader, my mind went STRAIGHT here. I found this article in a book an ex bought me many years ago. I was amazed by it at the time and have gone back and read it numerous times. I think she really puts the balance between desperation, love and responsibility remarkably well.

http://www.fact.on.ca/news/news0107/nw010702.htm

Hey, you aren't alone. And you are doing great. xoxo

Da Bee's Knees said...

I'll just chime in and agree with what everyone has said thus far.

I have not always been a shining paragon of motherhood myself.

I can remember a stiff jab in my teen son's chest with my index finger, while yelling "DO you really want to have this conversation? Because you WILL NOT win."

Yeah.

Not pretty.

Totally human, though.

We mess up. We try again. It is because we love that we keep trying.

*hugs*

MeadowLark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mental P Mama said...

I think that children need to see how their actions make you feel. They need to know that mommy is a human, too. It isn't a guilt trip if it is a genuine expression of your feelings. And then you can talk about it. Later.

Kristin said...

Well, obviously I can't speak from the mother's perspective (goddamn ineffectual uterus . . ), but from a child's perspective . . .

I can vividly remember the times my mom got so very angry and fed up with us that she would just tell us (quietly, but emphatically--my mom's not a shouter, but she gets her point across) to get out of her face, she didn't even want to LOOK at us anymore.

Looking back on it, I'm really glad my parents didn't try to be perfect, didn't try to always be in control (I mean, as long as you're not BEATING your kids or whatever). Kids need to know their parents are human, they have lives and emotions outside of being parents. And lines that cannot be crossed.

noble pig said...

It's something they won't understand until later AND that's okay. They have to know there are limits and setting them is fair. I think it's okay to lose it.

Simply AnonyMom said...

I have gotten to this point before, unfortunately more than once. I feel for you. I agree it is not a fun place to be. I hope you have a better day today and please know we do not judge and we have all been there too.

Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary said...

Guess what? You are a totally normal Mom. In fact I think your membership in mommyhood just moved up a rank.

To echo what a few others have said....it's ok to lose it, to have your kids see that you are human and have limits and that there are reactions to certain actions. Totally normal.

Last year when Jess was going thru his miserable, horrible teens there were days when I would look at him and say "what happened to my sweet little boy?" He really was being a total little shit and I would cry, and he saw it and I think that was a good thing. He knew that they way he was acting was bringing me to tears and sometimes they need to see that. We all get to the point when we just can't bend anymore and we break, but guess what...your fixable, and so are they.

You're a damn good mom, you just had a bad day. Hang in there sista. I'm in your corner.

Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Guiltless Glutton said...

My 6yr old went through a lying phase a bit ago. I got so upset with her I broke down crying and couldn't even manage to yell at her properly.

She retreated to her bedroom, and a few minutes later her magna-doodle slid outside the door. It said "I love mom. Does mom love me? I don't know." Then it had a box for yes, and one for no.

Um, yeah.

Anonymous said...

you are an awesome mom... i can only pray that my kids will be as smart, unique, and as talented. you're allowed to lose it every once in a while... and they'll know that same feeling when they have kids of their own.

oh yeah, it's stacey

tamilyn said...

Had that day last week as the youngest whined and whined about clothes and money and how she has nothing and then the oldest proceeded to tell us she never filled out her scholarship forms that were due in 5 days because she forget she needed to have letters of recommendation. I went totally berserk (my mom's word) and screamed and yelled and swore and told them they were selfish and lazy and didn't deserve to get into that great college because someone who didn't probably was able to complete the paperwork without their mother asking them every day for an entire month 'do you have your letters and your essays, do you have your letters and your essays?' And to the youngest I ranted that she can't have every f**king thing handed to her and if she feels the need make me feel bad because she can't have everything she desires, she can just leave me alone for good. I then grabbed my lunchbox, put my shoes on and went to work. They didn't talk to me until yesterday.

They need to know that we aren't perfect. We knew our moms and dads weren't perfect. They need to see that we are human and feel, just like they do.

And then we hope they have twins-just like them.

MrOrph said...

I don't know Krysta, from what I hear, rather read from you, you do a great job. It's their job to test you from time to time. Believe me, I was the worst kid EVAR! I put my mom through the ringer. Nothing wrong with a little guilt here and there.

Hang in, you are an awesome mom, really!

Cali said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cali said...

honey, if they don't see how you handle anger and frustration, then how will they know how to handle it? i agree that children are a blessing, but wow, is it hard sometimes... you're like every other mom i now, except for the part where you're a saint for raising four(4) children. most of us have a hard enough time with two or three. you're a rockstar! don't forget that...

DiaperPin Up Girl said...

I understand feeling like a monumental failure with my parenting. Then one of them gives me a sloppy kiss or tells me they love me and I feel even more guilty for feeling like I wanted to bury them in a field somewhere.

I think they wait until I'm just past my breaking point to pull me back.

After reading you for the last year or so I would say you're a great mom.

asthmagirl said...

Losing it in front of your kids is normal and part of the balance of being a mother. No one is "on" all the time. It's also good for them to occasionally be confronted with the consequences of their behaviors... eventually, the adults are going to lose their shit.
So let it go. You're doing what every other mom has done. It's okay.

Last night my 23 year old sat next to me and said "I grew from all the mistakes I made as a teen, Mom... but I don't think I ever apologized. I'm really sorry for all the worry and heartache I caused you. Thanks for sticking with me."

If we're lucky and we do it right... that is the reward for being a good mom.... for sticking it out...

xoxo

Cid said...

Thank you ECM. I just finished wrting a long email to my sister-in-law who was on Day 9 of kids home sick and I am on Day 5 of 12 with my other half away. My email subject was "Cid's Perfectly Horrible Very Bad Day" My 3 boys were tag-teaming me on who could be the most obnoxious, unhelpful and downright mean. They all got the prize.
We have to remember we are not alone in our little worlds of motherhood. Somewhere out there someone else is cleaning up for the umteenth time, screaming for them to stop fighting and pouring another glass of wine and ignoring the crash from the playroom.
Thanks for sharing your "Perfectly Horrible Very Bad Day"

Julie Pia said...

I'm so glad there are other moms out there like me. I have 4 kids as well and I loose my cool a lot more than I'd like to admit.

I think you need a little vacation. Nothing major, just a little "time out" if you will. This always lifts my spirits. I'm betting you are a fantastic mom. Hang in there, it always gets better.

Thanks for sharing your day. I know I'm a stranger to you, but we're all sisters in the grand scheme of things. It's nice to know you're not alone.

loves...

Not Afraid to Use It said...

Oh honey. I am so sorry to hear that you had that kind of a day, but I have been there. Too often. No one told me that motherhood involved this kind of shit. I hope you are feeling better today. If you need to feel better, you can read my awful cat story.

Andrea said...

I think a mom who loses it in front of her children is an honest mom, therefore a good one. And, that's what you are. Kids see through our shit so when you give them something real it shakes them up. They may not change right away but eventually they figure it out.

Familia said...

We have been having some rough days lately, too. It must be all the rain. You're right that nobody talks about this, as if it were something to be ashamed of. It's hard dealing with these kids who know how to manipulate so well. It's okay to shock them once in a while. They will definitely remember once they get their own kids! Thanks for sharing so honestly.

She Who said...

Krysta maybe that is one of the reasons I was so anxious to have this move to Germany. My kids just weren't growing up in the way they should.

I tended to be in their faces about their choices and they are old enough now, that they need to make their own choices, good and bad.

They are considered grown, and I can't influence them too terribly much at this point. Just hope that their upbringing will come back into play.

Hugs and kisses. You'll get through this.

PS. You need to email me for the replacement tealight information I want to send you.

Anonymous said...

Really? Nobody talks about this stuff? Maybe it's because I and the lions's share of my friends work in an industry that's mostly female, but nearly every day I get an earful of the not shiny stuff. Around here NOBODY's shy about bitching about the thankless job that is motherhood, their wretched, unappreciative kids and their worthless, good for nothing (but sperm and paychecks) husbands. Just one of the reasons why I've chosen to leave the childbearing and rearing to others--I'm just not tough enough for that job. God bless all of you moms out there.

The Yummy Mummy Cooks Gourmet said...

I can honestly say that if I passed you in the supermarket, I wouldn't recognize you (I don't think)...But I know some things about you.

I know you are a great mom. It oozes out of you all over the place. Tantrum or not - you are what moms should be. And I think Ib and the others need to wind their arms around your neck and give you the biggest hug of their lives. And they need to do it now. Like, right now, while I am supervising.

And you can tell them I said that.

xo Kim

PS: If they don't do it, just go ballistic again. I give you permission.

melissa said...

What everyone else said.

Don't doubt yourself K. The most used word in these comments supporting you was "human" and it's what came to my mind too. They need to see that their actions and words have emotional consequences.

And I'm not maternal, so I'll come give 'em hell for ya if you want. ;)

Jane said...

Wow. And I thought I was the only one who felt that way!
Remember the old McDonald's commercial from more years ago than I care to remember--when the mom didn't have dinner ready, and her kids were hungry, and she was feeling like a failure for not having this great meal all ready? she said something about "what would my mother do?" and her kids said, you aren't your mother; you're our mother! In other words, we may not be carbon copies of those perfect mothers from the 50's, but then the world is not the same. We're all just treading the water as fast as we can and hoping we don't do too much damage in the meantime! I truly believe that if you do the best you can AT THE TIME, you're doing great and it will all work out.
I'll never forget the relief I felt when, as a new mother of two, I got to my limit and called my mother, asking her if she had ever felt so exasperated with us; I expected some Harriet Nelson comment about how wonderful kids are and what a blessing it is, and how bad I am for feeling this way; what I got was my Mom saying, "Honey, there were days when I would have paid the first passing stranger to take you three!"
I came back to that memory from my mother often in the intervening years!!

luv 2 cook said...

I have 2 kids, 3 and 5, and YES THAT IS NORMAL. Perfect mom's are on tv and then later it turns out they were on quiludes and didn't notice jhonny was setting the drapes on fire. Sometimes it is better to let them see the pain instead of bottling it up till you say something so hurtful they never forget it. I tell them go play in your room as you made me really sad becasue... and I need a few minutes before I really get mad. I only use it when I reallt mean it and they tend to respond to it (knock on wood :)) Hope your week gets better and don't feel guilty as that will just wear you out!!!

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