I’ve never been good at admitting when I’ve had enough. Be it dessert, sleep, or clothes, I’m always going to try to squeeze in more than I need. But those aren’t unpleasant things to cop to. One thing I’ve never said or written is that sometimes I’ve had enough of parenting.
After everything we went through to get Madeline born and out of the NICU, I felt like I was a horrible person if I didn’t enjoy every single second with her. And let’s be brutally honest – it would take a saint to enjoy EVERY SINGLE SECOND of parenting, no matter WHAT the circumstances. When you haven’t slept for 63 hours, or your baby won’t stop crying, or you can’t even go to the bathroom alone – no one puts those on the top of their “Things I’m So Excited For!” list when they’re pregnant.
When Annabel came my happiness and relief carried me through the early rough patches – the times when a normal person would be like, “holy crap, I need someone to spell me.” As Annie got older and more willful, the feelings of needing a break would creep in, but I would shove them aside.
Unfortunately, ignoring my feelings only made things worse, and I began to get resentful. I wanted to share my frustrations, maybe vent a little, but I was afraid to. I felt like the second I said, “sometimes I just want a night off,” people would jump all over me. And I felt like I’d deserve to get smacked down. There are women who are sterile, or who’ve had adoptions fall through, or had miscarriages, all of whom would love to have the “luxury” of complaining about a child. I know after Maddie died I would have taken a million sleepless nights if it meant I had her with me.
But I really wasn’t being fair to myself. Parenting is a 24 hour a day job, and it is SO HARD. Hard in ways I never imagined. Other jobs come with vacation (and hazard pay – can you imagine what an explosive diaper would be worth?) and weekends to recharge. When you’re a parent, you only get wisps of time to take a breath before you’re back on duty.
I did Annie a disservice by not writing about the times I was frustrated with Maddie. I don’t want her to look back and see that I never once wrote about a time her sister was bratty and think she has a perfect older sister. There were plenty of times Maddie let her brat flag fly. I was just afraid that if I complained about them, I’d appear ungrateful. And that’s patently untrue – I am so grateful for my daughters. Even when they are bratty, stubborn, and frustrating.
Wanting breaks doesn’t mean I don’t love my girls. Bemoaning how hard it is to raise a child doesn’t mean I don’t love mine. Sharing the crappy parts of parenting (and there were plenty with Maddie) doesn’t mean I don’t love my kids! I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to admit this to myself.