When Riley was little — maybe three years old? — I agreed to have him participate in a study on bone density. It was this slightly creepy deal where I had to take a class C medication during pregnancy and at the time all the doctors were like, it’s fine! It’s totally fine, don’t worry! And then afterwards a medical group got in touch with me and they were all, oh, that drug you took? Totally fine! But we’re just doing this eentsy beentsy study to see if children’s bones, um, disintegrate when mothers take it. But ha ha ha, it’s FIIIIINE.

Anyway, I’m all in favor of studies that actually provide sound scientific proof behind the whole chorus of IT’S FINE!, so I said sure, and I trundled Riley over to the Seattle Children’s Hospital for an X-ray of his … gosh, I can’t even remember. His hips and legs, I believe.

(Spoiler alert: he was fine! Totally fiiiiine.)

Going to the children’s hospital, though … man. My heart started hammering around in my chest as we headed in and I could see kids here and there who weren’t so fine, children with bald heads and enormous shadowed eyes and children in wheelchairs and jesus, I felt like the world’s biggest asshole, welling up as I walked the halls with my perfectly healthy, chatty toddler.

I remember feeling this great crashing wave of never wanting to take a moment with my children for granted ever again, that if they were healthy and happy that’s all that mattered in the entire world. And then I remember being intensely irritated with Riley all of half an hour later, as he pickily hemmed and hawed over the little box of toys that the X-ray lady offered him as a prize for holding still during the scan. “Hurry up,” I hissed at him, mortified at his greediness.

I don’t really have a point here, other than I was thinking about perspective lately, and how slippery it is to hold onto. I bitched and moaned mightily about how long this winter break from school has been, then I blinked back tears as Riley climbed on the bus this morning. Last night I couldn’t wait for the kids to go to bed, then I sat on the couch and read someone’s blog post about their children approaching the teen years and how hard things are getting, and I ran back into my boys’ bedrooms to kiss their confused, sleepy faces. And on it goes — I have a thousand examples. Christ, a BILLION. I’m sure you do too.

It’s sort of ridiculous, isn’t it? How parenting so often makes you feel as though you’re not feeling the right thing at the right time.


54 Responses to “At odds”

  1. Pete on January 8th, 2013 4:31 pm

    Feeling? Totally overrated.

  2. Randy on January 8th, 2013 4:32 pm

    I firmly believe that kids are cute so that we don’t kill them and at the same time believe that they sucker us into thinking they’re cute by some diabolical plan they have. Catch 22’s abound in child rearing.

  3. agirlandaboy on January 8th, 2013 4:58 pm

    Absolutely. But (and you know this) it would be impossible to live in that state of perfect perspective at all times. If we did, we would be exhausted and terrified and too emotionally raw to even function. Being able to get irritated at our kids is a kind of a blessing that way…or so I tell myself when I get in that guilt loop of feeling like I’m feeling the wrong feelings.

  4. Carmen on January 8th, 2013 4:59 pm

    “It’s sort of ridiculous, isn’t it? How parenting so often makes you feel as though you’re not feeling the right thing at the right time.”

    This, EXACTLY. I have tried to talk to my husband about this before, but I couldn’t quite verbalize it as well as you have here.

  5. Amy on January 8th, 2013 5:01 pm

    Yes. My kids were with their dad all Christmas break and I was a mess missing them. Now they’re home and I honestly don’t know if I can do it alone again, counting down the hours til bedtime. It’s hard.

  6. Lindsey on January 8th, 2013 5:06 pm

    It really does. It feels like every night that I can’t wait for my kids to go to bed and then, as I close the door to their bedroom behind me, I sag against it, missing them. Every day.

  7. Kristen on January 8th, 2013 5:11 pm

    This exactly. I’m so glad to know that you’re all in it with me.

  8. Jenny on January 8th, 2013 5:13 pm

    I’m welling up here because this is the conflict I feel all the time these days. Thank you for articulating it so well. I knew I wasn’t alone, but it’s nice to read your post on the subject.

  9. mlegreenberg on January 8th, 2013 5:21 pm

    Ugh! Yes! After the CT shootings I felt sooooo blessed just to be able hug my kid that night…followed by tears of guilt that others suddenly couldnt. Then in like an hour I was totally irritated with his typical 2 year old behavior and snapped at him…and immediately burst into tears of guilt and shame. It was like being in an intensified state of what you discribe here and what is normally more stretched out from day to day. It was difficult to handle the rollercoaster and made me feel just as sick. I completely get what your saying here.

  10. Sarah on January 8th, 2013 5:28 pm

    EXACTLY! That’s all, just wanted to say that you have summed up my life- not feeling the right thing at the right time.

  11. Danell on January 8th, 2013 5:44 pm

    Me too.

  12. Heidi on January 8th, 2013 5:45 pm

    I hope to remember all of these comments tonight when I’m trying to get my toddler to quit fighting sleep, then missing him and feeling guilty an hour later.

  13. Aubrey on January 8th, 2013 5:46 pm

    OH YES! I bawled my eyes out this weekend because my daughters were with their dad (darn PMS hormones) and when I picked them up, I was scolding them by bedtime. And then felt terribly guilty because I had missed them all weekend and couldn’t hang on to my patience for even one night. GAH!

  14. sarah on January 8th, 2013 5:51 pm

    This is the most perfect sentence ever, ever, ever when it comes to parenting!

    “parenting so often makes you feel as though you’re not feeling the right thing at the right time. “

  15. Nancy on January 8th, 2013 7:44 pm

    Exactly! You’ve perfectly described the frustrating roller coaster of parenthood, at least as it is in my world too. Thank you!

    One minute I’m snapping at them to get moving, would you put your shoes on already?! and then the next I am bemoaning at how fast five years have gone by already and oh, they will be grown and gone in a blink.

    The middle of the night wakeups (what, you can’t go to the bathroom by YOURSELF any more? REALLY, kid?) are so incredibly frustrating — and yet part of me thinks, of course, get up and hold her hand to get to the potty, share that quiet moment tucking her in to bed when she won’t quite let go of my hand as she drifts back to sleep, as these moments will be gone soon.

    ARGH. I keep reminding myself (with help from my counselor) that every parent feels this, it’s normal, and that I’m a good parent, even if sometimes I’m snippy and impatient. I’m enough, and the ups will come with the downs, and the roller coaster will continue and we’ll all be ok.

    Love this post (and all of them, really) – thank you Linda!

  16. Mary on January 8th, 2013 8:44 pm

    I REALLY needed to read this tonight. Thank you. Perspective restored, and I should probably go apologize to the teenager now. One would hope by the third one I’d have got it right, but I don’t seem to.

  17. Jen in KC on January 8th, 2013 8:54 pm

    I am pregnant with my first child and, quite naturally, parenting is on my mind! I have no idea what lies ahead or what to expect navigating all this. I am an older mom-to-be (37), but feel so unprepared for this transition. I enjoy reading about parenting experiences a lot more these days and especially enjoy your perspective.

    I’ve read your blog since the Diaryland days. I don’t read many blogs anymore, but have stayed with you because of how real and relatable your writing is.

    Thanks for continuing write and share!

  18. Donna on January 8th, 2013 9:34 pm

    I’ve never read anyone that explains exactly what I’ve always thought as well as you do…how do you do that?

  19. sal on January 8th, 2013 9:56 pm

    Yesyesyes, a thousand times yes.

  20. yaya on January 8th, 2013 10:33 pm

    Just went through this Monday. Heading back to school after the holiday break and my kid is super sensitive and all that and he was sad about going back to school and so I was silently anxious about if he would have a meltdown and cry or cling as I took him to his Kindergarten class…then as I was driving I thought about the parents and kids and teachers returning to school in Connecticut….and I breathed a huge sigh of relief that my anxiety and issues were less than a grain of sand compared to their emotions and I looked at my Dude in the rearview mirror all sad about going to school after a long holiday break and I said “Honey, it’s ok. It’ll be great” and it was …… and my perspective on my anxieties and life etc…were greatly shifted. This happens about, a BILLION like you said…times a day :-)

  21. Sarah on January 9th, 2013 5:55 am

    Hear that? It’s the sound of you hitting the nail on the head. I don’t comment often, but do always read, and I just want to say kudos to you for always putting out there what the rest of us are feeling. It’s always nice to know you’re not alone.

  22. jen on January 9th, 2013 7:00 am

    I feel this way all. the. time. Particularly on difficult mornings, when I’m trying, trying, trying to just get him out the door and sometimes I get very snapish and angry at him for not MOVING and then I drop him off and he waves to me out the window and blows tons of kisses and I get to work a whole 5 minutes late (where, mind you, no one cares) and I think WTH was my problem? And I try to remember that for the next time and then I don’t. Ugh. Parenting.

  23. Maggie on January 9th, 2013 7:12 am

    I have also been feeling like this a lot lately. When I am by myself, I think about all the things I want to do better and how I should be toward my children, and then I come home and the place is a mess, they are covered in chocolate, the dog hasn’t been let out and I lose my mind and just start nagging them before even saying hello. And then I feel like shit. I am trying to forgive myself for these moments, no one is perfect, but it is so hard. Thank you for letting me know that I am not alone. THat even the best parents get irritated with their children.

  24. Jocelyn on January 9th, 2013 7:32 am

    Beautifully put. Really. I feel something similar to this a million times a day.

  25. akofaolain on January 9th, 2013 7:53 am


  26. Katherine on January 9th, 2013 8:10 am

    I don’t think it’s just parenting. I think it’s loving another, which requires that you put them ahead of yourself much of the time. Then you’re in that tug of war between what you want for you and what you want for them. I lost my dog last week. She was such a challenging being much of the time and I regret every impatient moment I had with her. But that’s the cost of loving anything–even yourself. You ride the pendulum between gratitude and exasperation.

  27. Maggie on January 9th, 2013 9:22 am

    I am there too. Oldest is almost 10 and on the cusp. I swing wildly between wanting to hold on to these last moments of childhood and spend time with him and enjoy the moment and wanting to throttle his eyerolling, attitude having, homework bitching tween self. Youngest is 3 and I simultaneously can’t wait for her to get a bit older and more independent and want her to stay little and huggable and emotionally unguarded forever. Parenting is going to push me over the edge one way or the other.

  28. melanie on January 9th, 2013 10:28 am

    Oh yes yes, I remember sobbing because the childrens hospital couldnt fit my 6 week old in dermatology for 4-5 months when everything i read said that most rapid growth of hemangiomas happen in the first 3-6 mths (spoiler alert-hers was on her face but stayed dime-nickel size NO BIG DEAL)… and then when we walked into that hospital down all those halls, all the sudden that strawberry/burgundy birthmark on her face made me feel like the most fucking shallow person on the planet. Nothing gives you a moment of perspective like a walk thru the childrens hospital.

  29. laziza on January 9th, 2013 10:37 am

    Yeeessss. The day of the Connecticut shootings, I wanted/needed my kids. So I left work early, picked them up from daycare and took them out for cupcakes – determined to spend some time together as a kinder, gentler sort of mom. Then they started screaming “Shake your booties!” and running around the cupcake shop and … well. “Kinder, gentler” went out in favor of the yelling, the hissing, the grabbing and the still ongoing guilt loop.

  30. Michelle on January 9th, 2013 12:08 pm

    Just chiming in to say “yes!” and how much I look forward to your posts for just this reason – summing up what I feel as a mom/parent/wife/working mom/mom to a boy/etc… Thank you and keep doing what you’re doing.

  31. Christie on January 9th, 2013 2:18 pm

    Children mess with our sense of time. The months and years fly by, but there are individual moments and hours and days that are endless and crazy-making.

  32. Lori on January 9th, 2013 2:37 pm

    I know what you mean. I have five kids. Most days feel like a struggle just getting through them. And yet I know I’ll miss these days. I want to enjoy them, and I DO, but most of the time I just feel weary and stressed.

  33. anon on January 9th, 2013 2:43 pm

    Your posts are cathartic. i come here to give my soul peace. Each one speaks to me but this one really did today.

  34. Erin on January 9th, 2013 2:44 pm

    So spot on, thank you for saying it so well.

  35. Maris on January 9th, 2013 3:35 pm

    NOT ridiculous! This hits close to home for me, I’m not a parent but a friend of mine passed away last week on a hiking trip and ever since I have been so anxious about the “small stuff.”

    I am going on a trip this weekend (it’s more of an ‘eating and drinking trip’ than a hiking trip) but I feel SO CONFLICTED. I feel guilty about going and having a good time but mostly I feel guilty that I am worrying about all of the usual travel shit that I always do (”WHAT IF I GET FOOD POISONING/FLIGHT DELAYS/MUGGED/LOSE MY DRIVERS LICENSE/FEEL SICK/GET A MIGRAINE” BLAH BLAH BLAH when she never worried about a thing an then…died.

    Anyway, sorry to treat your blog like a therapy session, but the bottom line here is that I know how you feel.

  36. Patty on January 9th, 2013 4:10 pm

    Oh I know. I remember when my son was born and thinking “I’ll never be able to leave him in daycare.” Then at the three month mark him driving me so insane I couldn’t wait to get back to work. Then, dropping him off the first day of daycare and weeping all the way to work. Fast forward to Fall of 2009 when we left him at college six hours away. I cried half of the way home and on and off for the next week. Fast forward to today. He went back to college and I hugged him goodbye in the Wendy’s parking lot after we had lunch without a tear. And yes, he pissed me off royally several times over Christmas break but love always wins.

  37. Shannon on January 9th, 2013 4:44 pm

    I read an Prevention article on Jamie Lee Curtis today where she said “Parenting is so difficult because its the only relationship in your life where the goal is separation.”

    I will try to hug my daughter more than I yell at her her tonight ;).

  38. Nicole on January 9th, 2013 7:19 pm

    Bingo! Thanks for that.

  39. Katie on January 9th, 2013 8:45 pm

    All the time. It’s an endless cycle. They go to bed (two girls ages 4 & 8) and I swear I will be better tomorrow-more patient, more fun, less anal. Morning comes and the yelling and frustration starts again. It’s exhausting and before I know it another year has passed. Mommy guilt makes the world go round!
    I really enjoy your blog and the comments are always great too. Your twitter is one of my favorites as well. Thanks for articulating what I’m usually feeling!

  40. Jules on January 10th, 2013 9:24 am

    Sept 2012 was the first september in 27 years I didn’t have a kid going back to an educational establishment. I cried. Ridiculous yeah?? but i totally get what you mean:)

  41. featured post – “at odds” by all & sundry – PAIL Bloggers on January 10th, 2013 12:17 pm

    [...] before about perspective using the humour of The Bloggess as a framework. In her post ”At Odds“,  Linda from All & Sundry also recently tackled the notion of perspective as it [...]

  42. SRB on January 10th, 2013 12:19 pm

    This beautifully sums up the seemingly minute to minute internal struggle I have been experiencing lately on the final countdown to #2 arriving. A mix of unbelievably lucky, grateful, and terrified. I too, count the minutes until bedtime most days these days. And when he is asleep, I miss him. UGH! My heart.

  43. Tammy on January 10th, 2013 2:27 pm

    Last night? Watched Sophie’s Choice. Ran up to watch sleeping children and my heart hurt because we’re so lucky. This morning? Almost beat someone for not getting their boots on fast enough.

    I’m just starting to resign myself to the fact that I ain’t no Dalai Lama.

  44. Sarah on January 10th, 2013 4:33 pm

    wow, exactly!

  45. Jessica on January 10th, 2013 4:56 pm

    Brilliant! When I feel the “i’m not winning the international parent of year award” sensation coming on, I remember this great quote from some celebrity (which of course makes him worthy of the international parent of year award because he’s FAMOUS) but it is still a great quote: “if you’re not yelling at your kids, you’re not spending enough time with them.”

  46. Ashley on January 10th, 2013 7:03 pm

    Oh man YES. YES YES YES. I experience this daily, and often– seriously– within the same five minutes. And oh the fun guilt trips and self-flogging when realizing I’ve been irrationally irritated by my children AGAIN. So tough, to live in perspective.

  47. LW on January 10th, 2013 8:56 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog since you were pregnant with Riley and I was carrying my own baby boy. They are just days apart in age from what I remember. I’m chiming in now just to say that my boy is one of those kids at a children’s hospital and it has been the most perspective building experience of my life. One day he was annoying the crap out of me with those trails of legos everywhere and his need to punctuate every moment with an explosion sound, the next he was hooked up to an IV, a prisoner in his own body. I would take back every time I ever barked at him to “sit still” for one more chance to see him tear through the house and be the way a seven year old boy should be – loud, annoying, stinky and healthy. I hope I get to see that again soon.

  48. mosted on January 11th, 2013 6:57 am

    I literally, just 5 minutes ago, finished a very difficult letter to a family friend whose 26 year old son committed suicide just after Christmas. I have 2 boys of my own, 18 and 15, and am heartbroken for this mother. My point is that I think we are given these “opportunities” in life to really appreciate what we do have, be it from the smallest gratitude to the biggest. It’s hard to feel gratitude ALL the time, when you feel like wringing their necks for bad decision making, but then something makes us put it in perspective. I always have to believe that something good has to come out of something bad. My 2 cents….

  49. Gaby on January 11th, 2013 8:56 am

    Ugh, yes, me too. Like the work days where I miss my boys so much it hurts, and I can’t wait to see them. And then they whine and cry and fight all the way home, and I can’t wait until bedtime! And then I feel so sad because didn’t I just want to be with them? Why am I wishing that away already? How can the four short hours I’m with them after work and before bedtime be too long/too much/too stressful/too everything? What kind of mother am I?

    And then I realize that I’m every kind of mother. And I hug my boys when I feel like it and refrain from throttling them the other times, and I just hope I’m doing somewhat ok by them.

  50. MuthaTeresa on January 11th, 2013 11:27 am

    LW – So, so sorry for your sweet, precious boy.

    Anon – you’re right. Linda’s posts are a form of catharsis for me as well.

    I try to forgive myself for those snippy, angry moments as much as I can & learn from them because God knows we all have them from time to time & I’m never, ever gonna make it to perfect. If I can manage to at least BE PRESENT for my kids the majority of the time, I try to cut myself some slack.

  51. Jen on January 13th, 2013 6:58 pm

    Yes. Yes.

  52. Alyson on January 15th, 2013 10:42 am

    I understand.

    My DH and I have raised three happy, healthy boys and sometimes I just feel this overwhelming GUILT. Other parents have had a harder row to hoe and I get these three great kids.

    But then again, just because THAT part of my life is good, doesn’t mean that everything else is perfect. I figure it all balances out in the end.

  53. Susan on January 16th, 2013 6:36 pm

    Linda, you have a knack for capturing what I feel so well in words. The timing of this post is perfect for me. I don’t know if it’s the winter blues and being indoors all the time, but lately I’ve been feeling so guilty for the short fuse that I have with my 3 year old. But then minutes later I’m trying to freeze in my mind the joy I get when he says the funniest things. After reading this post and all of the above comments, I feel better knowing that this is a normal frustration other parents feel too. @ Katherine- you said it well: “You ride the pendulum between gratitude and exasperation.”

  54. Joselle Palacios on August 12th, 2013 12:57 pm

    I just discovered your blog through the GOMI forums of all places (you are definitely a SOMI over there and I hope you won’t judge me for occasionally peeking over there!). I just love your writing. The last paragraph in this post perfectly captures how I feel since becoming a parent six months ago. One question: is there an easier way to search your archives than clicking through each post? I’m not seeing a link to different months and years on your site. Thanks!

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