Can we just clear away all the judgment from the air for a minute and have a little heart-to-heart?
You see, I read Brian’s post, “The Secret Emotional Life of Stay-at-Home Parents,” and the punch in the face didn’t come from the absolute truth he spoke about in his post (because dude, brilliant) but from the fact that it has thousands of shares and supportive comments complimenting him on being such an involved father and willing to “talk about these hard things.” Had I written something similar (which I have) it would have been glanced over by a few of my friends and I would have gotten one or two comments telling me to be grateful I can even stay home with my kids and that I should probably just suck it up and quit shilling out my kids for money. Oh, and to “stop looking for sympathy because no one cares.”
I say this because I have been around the Internet long enough to know how things work. (Hey, you over there, judgement-free zone here.)
I can barely say anything anymore, be it online or in real life, without thinking of the terrible things strangers will no doubt respond with.
Which means when things get rough, I get pretty quiet.
I get quiet for two reasons, the first being the trolls. I know how blessed and lucky I am to have two healthy and lovely little girls, a hunky husband who is also an involved father and a successful attorney — but just because my kids are cute doesn’t make a screaming fit any more adorable. You telling me I’m being an ungrateful toad for calling my child obnoxious or for complaining that I’m tired of being served felt food by a naked 2-year-old doesn’t help. Part of the reason so many people don’t ask for help, be it help with children or help with mental illness, is the fear of being judged. (True story: I was being transferred to the inpatient mental facility by ambulance after an overdose. After I told the EMT what had happened, his exact response was “Why would you want to kill yourself? You’re so pretty.” I KID YOU NOT.)
The second reason I’m quiet is because I realize what gets written down on the Internet today lives forever. I don’t want my kids going back and reading about the day I couldn’t stand having them even touch me, because someday they will read my words. The truly terrible parenting days are few and far between and anything I wrote about on those days would be in the moment, filled with frustration and anger — which isn’t fair to anyone.
I try so hard to strike a delicate balance, between admitting how mind-numbingly hard it is to keep a toddler alive and how much fun toddlers are when they’re not trying to jump out windows or trying to eat cat poop. (Which, BTW, future Addie and Vivi, you’ve never eaten cat poop (yet).)
Toddler is not my age. I can appreciate it for all its silliness and snuggles, but whew. It does a number on me physically, emotionally and mentally. I know I will miss it, which is why I’m enjoying it now, but it’s also why I take breaks from my kids. I know me and I know I’m a better mom when I get away here and there, be it 15 minutes or five days. Some people would be terrified to ever leave their children for any amount of time; I’m terrified that some people think watching The Walking Dead is entertaining.
We all have our thing — and, some days, toddlers are not mine.