I’m a conflicted parent. Sometimes I really don’t like parenthood. It may be controversial to say that, but it’s the goddam truth.
There’s some days where it’s just really hard, I’m irritated by the relentlessness of it and how I never have a moment to make sense of my own thoughts. Some days I don’t understand what Annie needs and why she’s crying. Sometimes I feel like a complete failure because I honestly don’t know how to deal with her, how to reason with her or simply don’t have the energy to battle with her. Sometimes I feel like a useless parent because I’ve given her fish fingers two nights running or because I’ve let her sit on the sofa to eat her dinner.
The Grass is always Greener
Sometimes seeing all my single friends, or married friends without children, occasionally makes me jealous. They can do things I simply can’t do anymore (you know… those little things you take for granted like SLEEP). I do wish people would talk more openly about their conflicted feelings. I believe most parents feel this way from time to time but they stay quiet, often with a fake smile across their face, or a series of perfectly posed pictures streamed across social media.
I’m conflicted because despite all of the above and sometimes finding it the hardest thing in the world, I truly love being Annie’s mum and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Most days I absolutely LOVE parenting. I love her beyond measure. I would do anything for her, I would sacrifice everything for her, I would lay down my life for her.
But does that mean I can’t complain about how hard being a parent is? Does it mean I love her any less or don’t realise my own blessings? No, absolutely not.
Deer in a headlights
Being a mum is confusing sometimes. I often have days with Annie where it starts off wonderful. She can be the sweetest most adorable thing on this planet and then she can just switch into a lunatic. She goes from sweet cuddles to throwing things, throwing herself around and screaming at the top of her lungs. In those moments it’s draining as hell and almost impossible to remain calm. By the time the tantrum is over, I feel like I have been hit by a truck. I feel like a deer in headlights – shocked and standing there completely frozen thinking to myself “WTF just happened?!“.
Most days I dread dropping Annie off at nursery, but occasionally I can’t wait to drop her off and have to stop myself from doing a little dance as I leave the building. That’s the truth.
Sometimes I’m conflicted because I love her so much, but at the same time I don’t like her very much. Sometimes she’s just a little arsehole. (Funnily enough I remember my mum saying this to me when I was a teenager “I love you but I don’t like you very much right now”. I remember being shocked when she said it but you know what? She had a point. I was probably being an arsehole at the time).
Some days I feel conflicted because I’m desperate to have a night off and let my hair down but at the same time I don’t want a night off because I don’t want to miss reading her a bedtime story, or giving her a kiss and cuddle before bed.
I recently had to spend 3 full days and two nights away from her for work and it was a wrench. And I’m not just saying that. For the first day I was ok, I was busy and distracted but when I didn’t get a chance to FaceTime her that first night I felt a pang of guilt and my heart ached. By the second night I felt like I had lost a limb and I honestly didn’t know what to do with myself. I started to remember what it felt like pre-baby, when I only had to worry about myself. It felt nice but at the same time I felt lonely. I was completely conflicted!
Let conflicted feelings co-exist
I think the morale of the story is that however fulfilling parenting is, it doesn’t define who I am. My story doesn’t start and finish with being a mum. Parenthood is a path of self discovery and I’ve found a new me along the way, but I’m always going to have some sort of internal battle. A battle to maintain some of who I was before, and what I hope to be in the future.
I’ve realised that I can do this, I can be conflicted. These feelings can co-exist. I can love her to death and she can be driving me absolutely crazy all at the same time.
I think to myself my mum did this, and her mum did this before her. And every mother before her did this. I bet every single one of them has felt this way from time to time.
There’s no end to love and there’s no limit to how much love you can experience. The more we love the more conflicted we may feel, and that’s ok. And it’s ok to feel consumed by it. Don’t let anyone tell you any different.