This article originally appeared on SheBudgets and was reprinted with permission.
We’re all parents and we have to face the truth. As much as we are in love with our children, there’s no time of day that’s better than when your little one finally shuts their eyes and gives you the rest of the night off.
Does that make us bad parents? Certainly not.
Let me be the first to say that I’m hopelessly in love with my son. To the point that it almost hurts when I think about how hard I want to squeeze him every single moment that I see him.
This morning for example, I was reading him the book The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big Big Dark, and I couldn’t help but stare at him endlessly. I’ve read it at least 500 times but it’s just as good each time. Why? Because he’s almost three and he’s at the point where he’s memorized the entire thing so he’s basically reading the book to me and I’m just gazing at him thinking, “How in the world is this kid my son?”
It’s a question I’m pretty sure I’ll be asking myself every single day that I see him. Like, how did he actually come from me? And I of course think my son is more adorable than any kid in the entire world and wonder every single day if others think the same thing (probably not). It’s part of being a parent. The recognition of a miracle, and that your child is the most special thing in the entire world (to you, not other parents).
And despite this love. Despite my undying loyalty and “I would totally get hit by a car for this kid” attitude about my child, for as long as I live from this point on and as long as he’s in this house, my favorite time of day will undoubtedly be the time he’s finally asleep and I can get some peace and quiet to do whatever I please.
Do I feel bad about this? I think when I was in my first year as a parent, I kind of felt bad about it. I thought, “That’s just not right, you should be wanting to spend every waking minute with your son.” Boy was I wrong! In fact it’s healthy to want to be away from your children. Not only for you, but for them. And let’s face it: they can be a serious pain in the you know what!
Tell me there aren’t times you don’t want to give them endless timeouts. Tell me there aren’t times when you’re just praying to dear God that they are tired enough to take a nap so that you can have just an hour of alone time. Tell me you don’t wish during that time you were playing with your kid that they didn’t get so excited as to nearly break your nose (which has happened more than I’d like to count). Get the picture? I’m sure you do, as there are endless other examples of times your kid has completely tested and destroyed your patience.
But I digress. Of course we love our kids! Of course we’d lay down in traffic for them. But the reality is that they are people just like you and me. They annoy the hell out of us. They wear us out. They stress us to no end. They make us tired. They make us hopeless. They put us in a daze. And yet we know they also provide us with the best moments we’ll ever have and the kind of love we never dreamed of having. And just like any other human being in our lives, sometimes a little much can be well … a little much.
So the next time you’re just waiting for those eyes to shut and you feel guilty about it, don’t. Because you deserve that time off. And believe me, they’ll probably paint the walls, drop the spaghetti sauce, kick you in the face, and God knows what else the next day so you’ll have plenty of time to get annoyed again.
Just think of parenting your kid as a job you love. You work extremely hard at it. You get a great sense of accomplishment when you know you’re doing your job every single day to the best of your ability. You’re proud of yourself. But at the end of the day, when the clock is ticking down, you want nothing more than to get the hell out of there.
It’s like any other love/hate relationship. The only way to nurture it is to pace yourself and to recognize that time off is important. It’s necessary. It makes that time together more special, more tolerable, and gives you the focus you need. Otherwise you’re gonna burn out and not be the parent you wish you could.
So let ’em sleep! Let ’em sleep for a long, long time!