My plan was to write some sort of upbeat post about why I no longer hate being a mother, but the truth is that parenting for me is a sucky job. Yes, it’s one I signed up for voluntarily, but the job I signed up for involved two parents, not one.
Many people have said that parenting gets easier as the kids get older, but for me that hasn’t been true. As my mother says, “Little kids, little problems, big kids, big problems”.
As a parent you tend to believe that everything your kids do reflects on your parenting – good, bad or otherwise. It’s easy to bask in the glory when your kids display care for other people, win awards at school and sports and write thoughtful letters to grandma.
It is equally easy, but so much more soul destroying to take it as a sign of bad parenting when your kids attack each physically, fail at school and show no interest in anything but video games.
I have tried so bloody hard for the last eleven years to do this job on my own to the best of my abilities and yet I feel like I’ve failed. My kids do not excel at anything other than video games, but not to the point where they can make a living from it, they resent each other to the point where one is ready to leave home just to get away from the other and they both have mental health issues, which adds an extra level of difficulty to this parenting gig.
Most of it is typical teenage behaviour you might say. And that’s probably right, but I tell you, it’s bloody hard not to take it personally and feel like a failure.
It’s hard when there’s no-one around to tell you you’re doing a great job. It’s hard when there is no-one around to support you when you have to be tough on your kids nearly all the time. It’s hard when there is no getting away from them day in, day out, when there is nothing nice to look forward to.
For me, parenting sucks great big donkey’s balls. It’s constant, it’s never ending, it’s beyond my skill level and it’s got few rewards.
I guess it’s especially hard, because there is so little else in my life. Business has been quiet, so I’ve been applying for jobs again and I’m hoping that a new job will take away my focus from the monotony of parenting to something a little more rewarding. Which is ironic, because in the past I hated work for how meaningless it was compared to parenting. How things change!
These past 8 weeks in lockdown have been exhausting. I’m looking forward to the kids being back at school as of next week and having a bit more space for me.
In the last few weeks I realised that this parenting gig will be entering a whole new phase when the kids start leaving home, which might happen sooner rather than later. And strangely enough a part of me felt bereft at the thought, but mostly because it felt like a rejection of me as a parent, my parenting style and the home I have built. It felt like all the years of struggle were worthless.
Dramatic much? Yes, I know. Black and white thinker, that’s me.
I quickly realised that it could actually be a good thing, that my kid felt self-sufficient enough, confident enough, independent enough to consider leaving home and trying life on his own. I certainly wasn’t ready at his age, but here he is, soon to be 18 and ready to fly the coop.
It also left me free to consider what’s next for me. What and who shall I be once I am not first and foremost a mother? I mean, I know I will always be their mother and always worry about them, but day to day, my life will not revolve around them like it has for the past nearly 18 years.
Life feels open to possibilities. I can do anything I want. I can live anywhere I want. What shall I do once the burden of day to day parenting is gone?