Truth Bomb: parenting is so much more than hard

I have a major truth bomb for you, and I am relieved that I am not the only one to feel this way to be honest. We’ve all heard that parenting is not easy, and no one really expects it to be, but have you ever considered that it might not be worth it? I can tell you with much certainty, that if I knew how hard parenting teenagers would be, I may have reconsidered the entire parenting gig all together. If I knew that I would spend years on end in survival mode, peeling myself out of bed and getting through each day like a robot mom, I’m just not sure I’d do it.

I can’t admit this to my kids. When my youngest asks me if I love being a mom, I say yes. When she asks me what my favourite part of parenting is, I tell her cuddling her. That part it true, my favourite part of parenting is the snuggles. But that ends. I won’t tell her how hard I have found being a parent, because I don’t want her to feel any sort of guilt. It’s not their fault really. It’s my naivety, thinking I could mother four children on my own, that’s just crazy.

I read this blog post by themotherhub recently, and it was as if the author was in my head. She spoke the words that I often think but am too afraid to speak. She opens with:

I like to be honest about my parenting experience; by honest I mean telling everyone how hard it is, how tired I am, the impact it has had on both my finances and my mental health. Don’t I sound fun? I do this because I really had no idea about parenting before I had my first child, none of us really do. You can read all the books, go to all the ante-natal classes, but you can’t really prepare for this experience.

TRUTH

via Feminist Friday: Is complaining about Motherhood a Feminist Act? — Feminist Parenting

I am a birth and postpartum doula, and people often assume that I’m a doula because I love babies. While I certainly did love my own babies (you know, when I wasn’t crying my face off and drowning in PPD), I don’t actually love other peoples babies that much. I am a doula because I want to help women prepare for parenthood. I want to assist in the empowerment of women right from the get go and support them through this incredibly hard transition. Birth is the easy part to be honest, parenting the hardest thing in the world. But if you start the journey surrounding yourself with support and being informed and empowered, you may just be willing to ask for help when you really need it. And then, you may just survive. Figuratively and literally.

Oh, and I have a Doula blog, feel free to check that out if you’d like.

The Worst Mom in the World

I’m not sure how it happened. I can’t remember when it started, and I have no idea how to stop it. I feel like I’m the only one, and yet I have seen memes floating around the inter-webs indicating that other mother’s share my sentiment. I feel like I may be the worst mom in the world. The worst.

parentingishard

Okay, I know I’m not actually THE WORST. I don’t beat my children, neglect them, and I make sure they always have a home, clothes to wear and food on the table. But there is a part of my brain that won’t stop telling the rest of my brain that I actually suck, and that I have likely destroyed my children beyond repair.

mentalchatter

How, you might ask? Well, it could be the divorce and separation. It could be the fact that I have moved between two cities (2 hours apart) twice. I mean, I did get a degree out of that move, but I still likely fucked my kids up. It could be that I came out to them roughly 6 years ago and have been in two serious relationships with women since. It could be that I now have two partners and am in a polyamorous relationship, and have been for the past 4 years. Or maybe it’s the activities I did or did not sign them up for. Maybe it’s the schools I’ve chosen, or the fact that I trained them to sleep in… just so I could sleep in on the weekends. Or maybe it’s the screens!!! Oh it’s gotta be the screens… iPods, xbox, netflix… I’m sure they’re screwed because of the screens.parenthood

Did I not breastfeed long enough? Or maybe too long? Was it the soy formula I gave my first two? They didn’t have the research to warn me against using soy formula at the time, but now it’s out and I can’t change the past. Did I not babywear my older two enough? Was it because when I did wear them, I wore them face out? Oh god, their hips!! And the overstimulation!I didn’t really co-sleep with them much either, maybe that’s it!

But what if it’s that I’m too strict? Or not strict enough? Did I not pay attention to them when they needed it? Maybe it’s because I was quite short with Dakota. It was stressful when he was little. I had PPD and he would kick the crap out of his baby sister, so I was short with him. He got sent home 4 times in the first month of grade one for being violent. Maybe that’s my fault too. His ADHD has made things hard, but maybe the years of changing his diet and trying different treatments fucked him up more than anything.

hostage-negotiation

I don’t know exactly what I did, but I have a sinking feeling that I failed them. I have always tried my hardest to be a positive, strong, female role model, but I don’t know if it worked. My teens think I’m weird, that I’m too strict (after all, they “should” be able to smoke pot in the house, right?), and they’ll do anything to get out of being around me.

It could be the roller derby, I always took the kids to my practices and games even though they found it boring. I traveled to games, and made the yearly pilgrimage to RollerCon in Vegas. I just quit competitive derby last year so that I could do more with my kids, but maybe it’s still not enough.

img_0483
Photo by Chris Edwards

Or could it be the tattoos? Piercings? Pink/purple hair? Oh god… maybe it’s my hair.

I.Am.The.Worst

Stop brain…. stop.

I have had enough of the self punishment.

I know that I did make all the best choices I could with the information I had at the time, and I have always been there for my kids. I do love them, and I can only hope they know that. I need to remind myself of that.

But I need you… brain… to stop telling me how badly I suck. Please.

behind-every-great-kid

 

The Glorification of Busy

img_0144

We are a busy family. With eight people in the house, I think it’s nearly impossible to not be busy. Even without registered activities, we stay fairly active. But to be completely honest, the registered activities are taking over our lives. We have brownies on Mondays, roller derby on Tuesdays, soccer on Mondays/Wednesdays/some weekends, in the fall we have football nearly every day, and in the spring we have baseball two nights a week. I coach roller derby and have volunteered to coach baseball this upcoming season.

I. am. going. crazy.

img_0236

I’m tired, she’s tired, we’re all tired!

Last week my ex gave me crap because our son’s baseball tryouts fall on his weekend, and his football games in the fall were on weekends. The thing is, I completely understand his frustration and would be fine without all the scheduled activities. But, here’s the kicker: that same ex took me to court for custody last September, and listed the “lack of activities” on his affidavit as one of the reasons. He actually took me to court and told his lawyer, who told the judge, that I “simply did not have the time” for organized sport and he saw that as a detriment to their upbringing (in actuality, I had the kids registered in activities, but we also took breaks). So now I am stuck between a rock and a hard place, I’m damned if I do AND damned if I don’t.

img_2192

These things are good for them, I get that! But when does it become more of a hindrance than a bonus? How do we find balance?!

I want my kids to be able to just run to the lake and play a game of shinny with their friends, play basketball at the local school, or play street hockey in someone’s cul-de-sac, but the reality is… it doesn’t happen. This lifestyle of organized sport has taken priority over the spontaneous sport and activity, and I don’t know how to change it. This morning Ashton and I went to play football in the snow with another family, and it was fantastic! We need more spontaneity when it comes to play and sport, and all the organized activities makes it nearly impossible. And what makes it even harder is trying to co-parent with someone whose values don’t align with mine. I’m constantly trying to keep him happy as to not end up in court again, but also try to salvage some sanity and happiness in the process.

It’s very difficult.

But we will prevail.

I will hopefully find my sanity in the summer.

When your kids hate you

My mom used to tell me that having your own child say “I hate you” is like a rite of passage, and you hardly qualify as a parent until that happens. I always thought that was a funning thing to say, and yet I can understand the sentiment. It is true that only a parent can understand the heart wrenching feeling that comes when your beloved child utters those three awful words. And yet simultaneously, that same parent experiences a comical amusement, as it is so obvious that they don’t hate you. That is, until they actually do.

The teenage years aren’t easy, and you may find that a lot of this blog is used trying to navigate my own parental minefield of teenage angst. I love my teens. I love them to no end. But you need to know that I love them because they are my children, and if any other human on the face of the planet treated me the way that they do, I would not have them in my life. I love them, and I tell them I love them multiple times a day. I have to keep vocalizing and telling them that, even when I feel anger, hurt, betrayal and sadness. They still need to hear that I love them.

teen-comic

Okay, so now that my love for my teens is not in question, let’s get real. I am fairly certain that Faith (my 14 year old) hates me. Those words that she so carelessly uttered when she was four years old seem to hold so much more weight now. Her words actually hurt, and I know she understands the meaning of hate now. It’s not just the words though; she does whatever she can to avoid being in the same room (or the same house even) with me for any given amount of time. Unless I’m dropping hundreds of dollars on her getting her nails done or buying her new clothes, she wants nothing to do with me. Anything I say gets disregarded with a simple eye roll, a heavy sigh, and a hair flip. To her, I am literally the dumbest person on the face of the planet. I have to tell you, it is hard. It is emotionally draining and no amount of red wine fixes it (I’ll keep trying though).

eye-roll

So here is my theory that I feel like I actually learnt years ago in a university psych course. Similar to when you are pregnant and you’re nearing the end of your pregnancy, and you want to be done being pregnant, the teen years are strategically and perfectly painful. Teens need to push boundaries, rebel, and find their own path. They need to get under their parents’ skin and separate themselves. And THIS is so us as parents can let them go; we can let them move out without a great deal of remorse, and likely be very happy about it. In fact, maybe there’ll be a party. It is a biological phase of separation and it needs to happen. Now with that said, I’m not sure it needs to happen to the degree that it is in our house, but it does help to remember the bigger picture.

off the mark cartoons comic panel

If you find yourself drowning in teenage angst and the nearest floaty appears to have a hole in it, remember this: you are not alone, you are a good parent, and your teens are just assholes. They will eventually get through this, and so will you. Also, feel free to join us over at Surviving your Teenager, a Facebook group I created for parents of teens. Only requirement is that you have an actual teenager. See you on the flip side all you wonderful brave parents, you got this. We all do. (just say it!)