I recently came across a fabulous article entitled “I Love My Children. I Hate my Life.”
I was dumbfounded. Flabbergasted. All those great words that describe that shock ‘n awe feeling…
According to the most recent studies, having kids makes you unhappy. I’m paraphrasing of course, but when I read this, I wanted to refute it at every word. I’m deliriously happy. Except when I’m not. And staying home and being there for my children is completely fulfilling…
OK. Not really. But….How did they know??
I did prefer washing up the dinner to bathing my kids. And of course I’d rather bake something real then pretend cook fake food. Stacking blocks, fitting shapes into holes, doing the simplest of puzzles….No, no and no thank you.
Sure, I could get into playing – I’d build something kinda cool, only to watch one of my guys gleefully knock it down. I loved when my boys helped me with my mini-business in the kitchen. As long as they understood I was totally and utterly in charge and they followed by every direction. Not so fun for them, tho’ raw dough is always a good incentive.
Yes, I confess: I hate the park. Ditto Sportball and other kiddie programs, watching Teletoon, and bro-on-bro (-on-bro) wrestling. We joke that it’s Rated M for Mother. because this mother can’t stand to look.But the park? Stresses me out. Either I’m standing still in the sun, repetitively pushing swings or, even worse, watching my 2-year old clamber up structures much taller than me – with several ill-spaced openings, perfect for falling from. That gut instinct that tells you not to walk off an edge? My son doesn’t have it. Or maybe he does but finds it hilarious seeing me try to figure out which side of said climber he has the least chance of tumbling from. It’s quite a dance we do. I envied my friends whose kids preferred the sandpit. They’d sit for hours and yeah, emerge filthy, dumping sand all over the floor, but my boys did that sans sand. And at least my friends got to shmooze with the other moms in the park. As one person pointed out: that’s not the point. You’re supposed to shmooze with your kids.
A lot of my female friends have confessed to not being very good at (ie not really enjoying)”playing”. Maybe because quite often, they’ve got other things to do (dinner, laundry, sorting through old clothes). One friend of mine told me the best day she ever had with her kids at the park was the day she figured she’d let them eat cereal for dinner.
Maybe it’s a girl thing. My Man loves to play with our boys. Maybe they have too much access to me or maybe (gulp) he’s just more fun. Apparently I’m more “talk-y”. Not sure how to take that.
The article mentions the “golden age” of child-rearing: when the kids are 6-12. Babies and toddlers are hard, and teenagers are worse. Our guys are 2, 5 and 7. I fear we’ll never be in that golden age. When my youngest turns 6, my oldest will be 12. Little kids, little problems and all that…
Either way, we’re right in thick of it. There’s a lot of “drudgery”. A lot of “chores”. And a lot of counting to 3 (and wondering what you’ll do if you reach the magic number and your kid doesn’t care). And yet, when my very busy baby starts singing “Imma Be”, complete with fist-pumping, I howl. And when my not-so-compliant middle guy joins me on my errands – he doesn’t like to miss a thing – he slays me with love and laughter (cliches be damned) every time. And when my super-sensitive eldest and I went to NYC, just the two of us, there was nothing better. It was like a honeymoon of sorts – but with my kid.
I feel like the “unhappiness” comes less from the kids and more from the loss of freedom that parenting brings. Same thing? Perhaps. Freedom is a luxury that I for one definitely took for granted. Going out wherever, whenever is no longer an option. Thinking solely of myself is impossible. Not because I’m the perfect wife and mother, but because it’s literally impossible. There’s always someone who needs something, somehow, somewhere. Or I get tired. Or distracted. But appreciating it now – is that about parenting? Or just growing up?
The grass is always, always greener. But seeing so many of my own “bad thoughts” put onto paper was quite gratifying. And enlightening. Therapeutic even.
If you have a chance, grab NY Mag and head for the toilet. And don’t forget to lock the door.
For those for whom this is impossible: check it out on-line.