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Is It OK to Love Your Kids and Hate Being a Parent at the Same Time?

“Is It OK to Love Your Kids and Hate Being a Parent at the Same Time?” originally appeared on Ivan Siladji’s personal blog and The Fatherly Forum, and was reprinted with permission.

Image Source: Thinkstock
Image Source: Thinkstock

I often find myself throwing the joke around that I absolutely love my kids, but hate parenting. Although the latter part of this statement regarding the hate for parenting is certainly not true (at least not in its entirety) there are certainly things about parenting that I am not a fan of. These can range from any combination of the following:

  1. Assuming various tones and forms of grammar to explain to my child multiple times why not doing what they are about to do anyway is a bad idea. This leads to my explanation being interrupted by a crash, drop, crack, spill, splatter, bump or self-inflicted injury. At this point I highlight the fact that I explained why it wasn’t a good idea in the first place while tending to the tears of my child that stands before me. Anyone have any secrets?
  2. Repeating point #1 again only moments later in light of the saga that had just unfolded anyway.
  3. Picking up half-eaten, now brown apples and bananas that have been meticulously placed in no recognizable patterns across different parts of the house. Then … treading on a bitten off piece of apple with my fresh socks on the way back from the rubbish of which just became the new house of the half-eaten brown pieces of fruit.
  4. Giving “one more chance” and praying in hope that the bath I just ran for the kids will be different this time, noting the promises that were given to me that water “won’t go all over the floor this time.”
  5. Having to mop up all the water that just went all over the floor (see: point #4).
  6. Putting my feet up to catch my breath from all of the psychotic pacing up and down the hallway picking up perfectly clean clothes, wiping spilt water off the floor from various drink bottles that have been filled throughout the day, and packing up endless amounts of broken toys only to be interrupted by the pitter patter of feet up the corridor saying they are hungry. At 11 PM. When they said they would eat their dinner even if they had just one afternoon snack. See point #3 as to the true fate of those afternoon snacks, which subsequently meant the little ones didn’t eat all of their dinner and now demand toast or some other form of snack to beat the exaggerated, world-ending hunger they are facing, even if it comes in the form of a biscuit, chocolate, or lollipop. ‘Cause they are hungry.
  7. Advising in various tones not indifferent to those stipulated under point #1 that jumping off the counter onto a pile of pillows is definitely not a smart thing to do. At which point one child rebounds off the pile of pillows and hits the floor, then cries, and I say something along the lines of, “See, How many times does Daddy need to say, ‘Stop jumping’?” This then is shortly followed by a phenomenon known as déjà vu.
  8. Assuming a state of utter self concern brought on by long bouts of self-questioning whether or not it’s me actually going insane or whether little people just don’t understand big people’s talk. Or even going as far as wondering if they are actually not doing anything wrong at all and maybe I’m simply in a state of exaggeration. Unlikely. But plausible. Re-read point #8 … 40 times. Welcome to parenting.
  9. Laying my head on my pillow at 12:10 AM only to hear a child cry at nearly the same time every. single. night just as I’m assuming R.E.M. sleep. Literally the same time, but I’m yet to find the troll waking them up at 12:10 AM on the mark. Please – someone explain. (See: point #8 as I fear I’m going insane.)
  10. Begging a little person not to bring the four toy cars, three dolls, five books, and an unnecessarily large superhero figure with us to the store as there is nowhere to put the toys and in advance I stipulate I don’t intend on carrying them for them. Rest assured I’m promised they will carry them all, themselves. As soon as I enter the store I’m in a predicament where by I can no longer carry my groceries because my hands are tied up holding four toy cars, three dolls, five books, and and unnecessarily large superhero figure. (Surely … you’ve experienced this at least once, right? Or do I need to revisit point #8?)

But! There is a but! As I lay here at 12:30 AM, having just passed the first 12:10 AM on-time random wakeup by child number one, my heart feels a sense of warmth and love for the two kids I am blessed with. There is not a day that goes by that I am not grateful for them. And I’m very well aware they won’t stay little forever.

When trying to find an image for this post, I looked back through hundreds of photos that I’ve obsessively taken over the years in an attempt not to miss any moment and I was in absolute joy. But also somewhat melancholy having realized how fast they have grown. Like all our kids, they are fantastic, intelligent, enthusiastic, eager, and so full of life … they truly are. I’m gifted beyond words for mine.

I fear not being the great dad that they so naively admire. To them we are the greatest. To us we can’t even put words to how brilliant they are. Unquantifiable amounts of love. Parenting comes at a cost — rather, the privilege of parenting comes at a cost and those are transacted via the at least 10 points noted above. The reward however is an infinite amount of joy, love, memories, gratitude, laughter, tears, smiles, and squashed apple piece on your socks that illuminates from the little people in parents’ lives.

They absorb everything we say and do even if we feel they are ignoring us. It’s evident when they recall things you said that you didn’t even realize they would pick up on. On the flip side, they also absorb all of the love you give them, too. And there is no limit to the amount they can soak up.

If you’re a parent – hug your little one(s) tight. Let them know how wonderful they are to you. They might not totally understand. But do it anyway. It’s your responsibility to say thanks for the honor of dealing with the 10 points noted above. It truly is.

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