Walk the aisles of Target and you see all the coffee-sipping parents, nonchalantly pushing a red cart through Buckeye’s Play Yard while a screaming child (or TWO) is kicking, wailing, and flailing their extremities all about. Said parent, sighs, sips said coffee, and continues to shop, ignoring the hurricane of a child they’ve strapped into their cart.
About three years ago, pregnant me waddled down the aisles of Target. In my head, I thought to myself: that would NEVER be me. I looked at the dysfunctional children and their worn out parents with an expression of both horror and sympathy. They both-monster child and zombie parent- looked at me with expressions that both yelled, “RUN WHILE YOU CAN!”
Here’s the truth, folks. I have a two year old. She is now the wild child in the cart. I am now the zombie mom. I don’t know when I last combed my hair this weekend. I’m not here to buy anything, just for fresh air, a change of scenery, and the coffee. Childless people give me the looks of pity; I give them the “I don’t recommend this” glance.
I would like to post a warning right here:
If you were under the impression that this was going to be one of those sappy parenting/lifestyle blogs where I make parenting seem effortless and joyful all of the time, you should leave and never return, unless you’re ready for the disappointment.
Parenting is hard-nearly impossible.
I used to sleep until noon… all of the time. Now I need a nap by noon, but the child is still going strong until at least 3. I woke up today at 9 and formed the thought, “Wow, I slept in.”
My child is inherently strong willed. She gets it from me. So most of her tantrums are met with my reluctance to give in to them. (“Good!”, you’re thinking. “Show her who’s boss.”) Thus, most tantrums are actually just a standoff between her and me, where we compete to see who will win this round. And they can last for HOURS. She’s pretty intense.
I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge stay at home parents. You do this for a solid 168 hours a week. I don’t know how. Maybe it’s numerous trips to Ikea or Target.
For the working parents, remember when you experienced each of these feelings:
1) Your first time back to work/school after being home for weeks/months with your new baby. You were sad. You cried a little. Your heart broke a little. You went, and all you thought about was that baby at home that you’d rather be snuggling with?
Well, you blinked, and they grew older. As they grew older, they became increasingly more difficult. You’re now frazzled, tired, frustrated, and frankly, at your wits end. Sunday night rolls around, you get to bed late because your child is now at that horrific stage where they’re fighting bed time, testing the limits… as if the 5 meltdowns earlier today weren’t enough, they have to go and fight about this. The final showdown. You’re exhausted. You crawl into bed-you can LITERALLY feel the gravity leave your body and here comes this new emotion that you didn’t think you could really feel.
2) You can’t wait to go to work in the morning. You’re going to interact with other adults about other people, events, and things that exist outside of your home. When you see your child at work, it’s only a picture on your desk or phone where they’re hugging you around the neck and when you look at it, you see the part of your child that you love and miss and cherish because the monster that tore your house apart the day before is not this innocent angel that smiles at you through the wooden frame.
I get it.
If you relate to any of this, you don’t hate your children. I love my daughter and she can be a real nightmare sometimes, trust me!
It’s just honesty.
Parenting is hard enough without the societal expectations we’re subconsciously holding ourselves to.
Child rearing is hard. It is not for the faint of heart. If you don’t stand your ground and be the “mean mommy” sometimes, the two-feet tall munchkin will assume authority and hijack your household. Not an exaggeration, some days they’re that ruthless.
It’s okay and, frankly, normal, to acknowledge that your child isn’t perfect and sometimes isn’t a “joy to be around”.
Feeling that way doesn’t make you a bad parent. It makes you a real one. You continue to love them at their worst. You still feed them-even after they’ve been horrible. You still give all the cuddles and kisses at the end of the day. Two seconds after they’ve been behaving horribly, you’ve forgiven them, and you’ve moved on, and you’re doting on them with all the love you have to give. That’s what makes you a good parent! Unconditional love. Unending grace.
Kids are rough. And though I’m only two years in, I’ve been told it doesn’t get any easier for a while.
So go to Target. Get your Starbucks. Walk around. Give others those warning glances, laugh off the looks of pity, and keep pressing on because as soon as you turn into the next aisle, you’ll see another one of us. Another zombie parent, drinking their coffee with their kid freaking out in the empty cart. We can raise a silent toast to each other, with our lukewarm coffee cups, “Here’s to you, fellow parent. You got through yesterday, so you can get through today, too.”