Dylan was sort of a no-good baby last night, screeching and resisting sleep and generally being a tiny little (adorable!) asshole, and at the same time Riley was in his bedroom issuing forth random, I’m-not-asleep-yet tantrumy whines and kicking the wall next to his bed, and I had been planning to get some writing done and then do some yoga before enjoying a late-night bowl of strawberries and Cool Whip and the children were RUINING EVERYTHING, and god, I was just so ridiculously frustrated with it all — stomping around yanking off my yoga clothes and heaving big dramatic sighs and mumbling about how we should just stuff the children in the Dogloo and feeling something like total despair over our damnable choice to become breeders in the first place.

I hate that it often feels like I am scraping the bottom of my reserves, that instead of being capable of taking a deep breath and shouldering my way through the less-fun moments everything all of a sudden seems so impossible, as though I had been enduring days and days of misery instead of five consecutive unpleasant minutes. I hate that I hold my free time so dearly that any imposition on it makes me feel so garment-rendingly bitter.

The other morning I was up early after a difficult night and trying to feed Dylan while he thrashed around and howled and I told JB with great irritation that I didn’t have the patience to deal with children, JEEZ, and JB said without missing a beat that he knew.

“Wait,” I said, stopping the rocking chair and putting the bottle down. “What do you mean, you know? You know the kids require a lot of patience, or you know I don’t have enough?”

“Both, I guess,” JB said.

I told him later how stupidly hurt I was by his response — stupid because it was like telling him I felt soooo fat, waiting for him to exclaim over how skinny I looked, and being upset when he didn’t perform on command. I do think both of us were tired and cranky; I was exaggerating for the sake of complaining, and he probably didn’t much feel like placating me at the time, but I felt like I’d just gotten the world’s worst performance review, made all the more devastating because this job is mission-critical, this is not a job where you fuck around, this is the job of caring for the people I love more than anything on this earth and if I am a screwup at this then there is no hope for me at all.

On the one hand, I think that this job can be hard as hell, and if I sometimes feel resentful and selfish and impatient, maybe that just means I’m human. On the other, I think it’s shameful to admit that, because this is what I signed up for — and my god, this life is so good.




63 Responses to “Room for improvement”

  1. kristylynne on June 3rd, 2008 3:30 pm

    Nothing makes a mommy feel worse than indulging in a pity-party every once in a while. I have done it so many times. It doesn’t mean that we’re not incredibly grateful for the children we have.

    I distinctly remember one incident during my son’s first weeks, where I was in my never-ending sleep-deprived state, and he refused to nap, so I stomped into the living room with him and basically dumped him onto his playmat and told his father I was leaving the house. Turned out I just needed a few minutes to get myself together, and then I felt so bad for doing that to both my son and my husband that I have never forgotten it.

    In other words, it happens to all of us.

  2. CA on June 3rd, 2008 6:59 pm

    I’m a huge JB fan, and I’m sure he was just tired and cranky, but that comment would have devastated me. Sometimes when we’re at our worst, we need our loved ones to tell us that that’s not really “us.”

  3. victoria on June 3rd, 2008 7:36 pm

    I would be pretty grouchy if someone stole my wee smidgeon of free time, if it was the only free time I had gotten all day and I had really been looking forward to it. I don’t care how much you love them, you still need time to yourself.

  4. Andrea on June 4th, 2008 6:35 am

    I don’t know how you do it, write so consistently and in such straightforward ways the EXACT things I feel so many times.

    I don’t know what to tell you. Except that I’m doing garment-rending myself when my mere minutes of free time are infringed upon. You’re not alone. As the other 52 comments probably said.

  5. Jen on June 4th, 2008 9:48 am

    Somewhere around 3 am this morning I found myself losing patience because my child was crying NEEDLESSLY and UNCEASINGLY just because my nipple did not happen to be in his gaping maw at that exact moment. I found myself hissing into the darkness that he should possibly “shut the *#(&$#& up”.

    Then I felt immediately and horribly guilty.

    It’s such a tight-rope walk!

  6. telegirl on June 4th, 2008 8:26 pm

    I try to be so patient with my little one but sometimes, I just can’t handle it. I’ve got way too much on my plate right now and when I get frustrated with him, I just feel worse–for failing at being a good mother and for doing everything half-assed because, well, that’s my life right now. And then the self-pity kicks in because I never seem to have a lazy moment to myself. But I know how much I love my son and I know that things will get easier when my husband is finally home again. I completely empathize with you. I really do.

    PS) LOVE the Spaceman Spiff PJs. My little man has those but he outgrew them. I should have bought the same pair in every size!

  7. Jenny H. on June 5th, 2008 10:18 am

    How I love you so. You are right, it is a difficult job. And at the same time, the very best job ever. I mean really, when else can you smooch on fat,pink bellies all day?!

    That having been said, I do relate to the rest of what you wrote. The guilt alone is a killer. Sometimes I just have to take a deep breath, stop whatever it is I was doing, and just go sit on the floor with Nub and Dub and chill. Whatever works. Don’t beat yourself up over it. You are both good parents, tired parents, but good, loving parents. The boys could not ask for more.

  8. Ginitag44 on June 5th, 2008 10:23 am

    Sometimes my 11 month old morphs into a howling demon from Hell (especially at 3A.M.) and when that happens I entertain fantasies of packing up a bag and leaving; never to return. Then morning rolls around and he is a smiling, drooling angel with a big goofy grin on his face when I peek over the side of the crib to check on him.
    You are, as everyone here has pointed out, a great mom who is only human. We all are.
    (LUUUUV the pictures!)

  9. Leslie on June 5th, 2008 1:56 pm

    Once again – you laid it all out in black and white and from reading many of the comments, you touch and connect with a lot of people. You are a breath of fresh air :)

  10. Leslie on June 5th, 2008 1:57 pm

    Once again – you laid it all out in black and white and from reading many of the comments, you touch and connect with a lot of people. You are a breath of fresh air :)
    I have tried to list your blog on my site but for some reason it won’t create a link right now – but at least your address is there for now!

  11. Josh on June 6th, 2008 12:27 pm

    Listen Linda, you don’t need to fret about a thing ok? You’re a great mom, and (I’m assuming since JB is still with you) a great wife. You’re funny, and talented, and determined, and you like zombies. Everybody feels like shooting themselves in the face once in a while.

    Take yesterday for instance. I slept

  12. Emerald on June 9th, 2008 8:55 am

    Haha, I don’t think Josh finished his comment. Probably fell asleep :P

  13. what they said « those darn kids on July 16th, 2008 6:38 am

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