Today's post is brought to you by the letter "F" and the number "0." Because sometimes being a good therapist means being a whole, strugglin-ass person.
It’s raining, it’s cold, and it’s been one of those weeks (months?). I have two boys, two and a half and 4 months who alternate not sleeping, not listening, coughing, crying, pooping, and injuring themselves, ratcheting the cumulative suffering odometer up to an 8 or 9 in any given moment. Right now, I want to run away. Not just head to New York for the weekend, but get on a plane to Canada, take a bus, then a moped, then a pack mule into the wilderness, bang on the door of the first monastery I come to and devote my life to the Dharma, the blissful shaved-headed, robe-wearing, life of a nun that would free me from all this mothering bullshit.
What bullshit you ask?
I’m sick of broken sleep. The kind of shitty sleep that that comes with a risk of death if you operate heavy machinery.
I’m completely over trying 5 different positive parenting strategies to get my kid to stop yelling/jumping on the couch/running in the street only to end up resorting to yelling in the end anyway. Cue the sense of incompetence and guilt, because all the research indicates that yelling has a similar impact on development as violently abusing your kids, so I’m writing their tickets to juvie with every impotent outburst.
I’m bone tired of the sense of dread that shows up at 3 PM everyday when my husband is getting ready to go to work, and I see the expanse of the next 4-5 hours ahead—here we go again with my oldest son’s nerve-janglingly loud “inside voice” that can make my highly sensitive self want to scream, the inevitable 30 minutes to an hour of pacing up and down the floor with the baby in the carrier while he fights his nap, each step sending an ache up my leg and into my back because, childbirth? I don’t even know. The inevitable powerlessness of trying to meet the needs of two helpless beings at once when I am barely managing my own ADLs at this point.
I hate cutting their nails, feeling like an inept brain surgeon trying not to maim them for life with an errant slip of the clippers.
I’m beyond sick of how the same sweet little baby whimper can either galvanize the super nurturer in me or trigger the urge to scream and damage property. He just. Fucking. Ate.
I could do without battles over food, not recognizing my own body in the mirror anymore, no break from being needed, the endless stupid mess of the house.
I hate how much I love them, and how frequently I feel like I fail them; how much I want to be happy with them, and how hard that seems to be for me to manage. I want to be a whole person and a whole parent, but this week (year?) it seems unlikely that I will be more than a shadow of either.
I’m not going to wrap up this self-pitying manifesto with some Hallmark “but it’s allllll worth it when you see their sweet faces looking up at you.” That couldn’t be farther from my truth today (the next 18 years?). I will say that what I wish for myself, and what I wish for you if you feel this way too, is to find my capacity for grace. I hope that I will be gentle with myself as I take stock of my efforts and my failings. I hope that I will rediscover my sense of wholeness and peace and be willing to do whatever it takes to maintain it once it shows up again. I hope that instead of berating myself for being a light weight who can’t handle the typical ups and downs of parenting decent, objectively low-maintenance kids, no matter how many long weekends they get with their grandparents, I will say to my raw, busted, overstimulated heart “yes, this is real.” I hope that instead of allowing my struggle to turn into a rageful urge to chronicle all the ways my husband fails me (read: “if you didn’t suck so bad, I wouldn’t be a hot mess right now.”) I will remember that no one is responsible for from saving me from myself, and no one ever sucks as bad as it seems when you’re losing it.
May you have happiness and the causes of happiness, may you be free from suffering and causes of suffering, and may you have all that without running away to a monastery—the world needs moms more than it needs nuns.
Dr. Candice Creasman
Therapist, author, and counselor educator. Articles with tips and tools for living your most authentic and joyful life.