Sometimes I think why can’t you just stop and
be
in this moment
stop
just
stop
and be here
all of your attention
and sometimes I feel like screaming because
there are two of them
and I
can’t no matter how hard I
try but
let’s not lie
sometimes I don’t
try as hard as
I should

Sometimes when I’m at work I
want to be home and sometimes when I’m home I
want to be at work
or at least somewhere
with adults
and the luxury
of not doing the eight million things
I wish I didn’t have to do when I am
doing them
that I wish I were able to do
when I am
not

Sometimes
I don’t feel particularly
good at
any of my
jobs

Sometimes I feel so restless and
bored and
I wish I could just
leave
go to the
bookstore or the
wherever
without the back and forth and the favors and the tick tick ticking clock while I’m gone
and the moment I see
someone else’s child when I’m on my own I
feel guilty and sad and I miss them and
sometimes when I get home I think how I just want to
leave
all over
again

Sometimes I tell myself over and over that it will be easier when they’re
older
and isn’t that nice how I am
wishing away these years I will never
ever
get back

This weekend I felt like I was pacing in my
life like a zoo animal
trapped and wild-eyed
and I was frustrated with one child for being
well
the short story is
for being 19 months old
and I was angry with the other child for
refusing to eat and he started whining and something in me gave way
all at once
like a rotted old barn
and I reached out and grabbed his shirt and pulled him
howling
across the kitchen bench and yanked him to his feet and
my voice was
it was
(I don’t even want to remember)
so loud
and all I wanted in that moment was for him to feel
just as miserable as I did
I could have
slapped him
until my hand ached
(I did not)
and it was all over
some
fucking
chicken
later when I could
breathe I
realized that if I’d felt trapped
before
by neediness and fussing and the confines of parenthood
that was nothing compared to the feeling of
knowing
exactly
what kind of person you are capable
of being
and you can’t take it back
(you can say you are sorry)
(but you can’t)
(go back)
(and make it unhappen)
I felt like one of those Russian dolls where every successively smaller part of me was
held inside
another and they were all
ugly
broken and
terrible

Sometimes I am lifted by them
scattered in the air like a million spinning dandelion seeds
blown by my child
(who calls them
candle flowers)
and sometimes I am held fast to the earth
counting the minutes
until I can escape
everything I hold closest to my heart

I am ashamed that
sometimes I turn on the TV because I just want them to
shut
up

Sometimes it seems relentless
and I can only see the side of the coin with the
drudgery
like that which I am most proud of
is a jail sentence that goes on and on and
oh what a
fucked up
way to look at it
because the other side
is indescribable
in its beauty
and if you must endure one to be gifted with the other
such is
life

Sometimes these bad moments feel
consuming
but sometimes
(most of the time)
(most of you understand)
they are not

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SJ
SJ
12 years ago

DITTO.

And in the end it toally makes you a better Mom. Don’t you think?

HipM0M77
12 years ago

Beautiful. I was holding my breath as I read that entire piece…I imagine that’s pretty much how you felt while going through it all. I hope you can breathe easier now.
*hugs*

Ashley
Ashley
12 years ago

Linda,

Thank you for writing this. I’m not a parent (yet), but I am sure the day will come when I can and will relate.

I have been reading you for years, and have come to love and appreciate everything you create. I can say I will be one of the first to buy your book when it is published.

I also follow you on Twitter, and have noticed since the Dooce/Maytag issue that a lot of your tweets are dripping in frustration, anger, and annoyance. Now I understand why.

Do you think you would ever consider taking a break from all of your jobs (work, family, writing) just to get away and enjoy a little rest and relaxation ALONE? That might be exactly what you need.

I hope you find peace soon, even if it’s just for a moment.

Claire
12 years ago

Exactly.

Jill
12 years ago

Remarkable. What a beautiful, painful thing to read because I’ve been there too. So often. We all have. Thank you for sharing in this way. You truly have a gift.

Kim
Kim
12 years ago

Thank you for the amazing feeling of relief you just gave me – letting me know that I am not the only one who feels this way. I knew that other moms got frustrated but it was almost always expressed in a comical way which made me feel bad for feeling JUST THIS WAY somedays. Thank you thank you thank you.

Kristy
12 years ago

My son is 16, I wish those day’s back all the time. In less than two months he will be 17. In less than one slight blink he will be out in the world…gone. And no matter how many times I go to the bookstore I will not come back home to him.

Jen
Jen
12 years ago

I don’t even have kids, and I thought that was extremely touching. Keep up the awesome writing!

Lisa
Lisa
12 years ago

Been, there done that, got the T-Shirt…
but
There is not one way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one.
and
look at the good ways (lessons) you taught your boys.
– we all lose it sometimes
– that doesn’t take away the intense love we have for people we love
– good, smart people reflect (we don’t take the time to do this enough in our society)
– busy lives, trying to shove a lot in, are cool
– so is calm quiet times.
Your boys are luck to have you as a mom.

Lori
Lori
12 years ago

Right on Sister, that was absolutely amazing!

Cookie
12 years ago

I’m not alone. That’s why I read your blog. Because you say some of the things that I don’t even say to my husband. You have moments that I have had and I know that I’m not alone. And when those moments happen, I feel so awful afterwards. And I look at my son, who I adore and I think how could I let myself get that upset? And yet in the moment it can all be just so hard. Every whine and complaint just pile on. The eating is a big one. But we’ve had issues about getting dressed in the morning. And cleaning up our toys. Thank you. Thank you for sharing. It means a lot.

Andrea
12 years ago

I hear you. No really…I HEAR YOU. Because, I’m living it and I know and it’s hard but so good at the same time and wow…it’s just a lot sometimes.

nic @mybottlesup
12 years ago

*sigh* yup.

Pam
Pam
12 years ago

Yep, the guilt is really the worst of it all. I totally understand.

natalie
12 years ago

Just cried. Thank you.

Kate
12 years ago

Spot on. I lay in bed last night, feeling guilty for not being a better, more “present” mother. Anyway, before I dissolve into a puddle of tears, YES. I UNDERSTAND.

Now we all need a group hug.

jwoap
12 years ago

I have no idea if this will help at all, however,when I was in the 2nd grade I wore this horrible icky brown dress. It was so worn it had began to develop holes in it. I wore it with long pants underneath so I could be a tomboy without showing off my underwear.

One day my mother asked me to take the dress off as I had been wearing it for three days straight. And I wouldn’t. I would.not.

My mother snapped that day and yanked me to a standing position, got down right in my face and bellared to me that she was going to rip that FUCKING DRESS OFF MY BODY if I didn’t take if off RIGHT NOW.

And I did. No questions asked.

Looking back I realize I learned right on the spot that I knew just how far to push my mother and she could if pressed roar just as loud and long as my father.

You are a great mom Linda. You really are. Maybe next time your son will learn to eat his chicken:)

Kelli
Kelli
12 years ago

I’m putting this on my fridge. It will make me want to be a better mom… and when I’m not, I will know that I’m not the only one who is struggling.

Super poem.

ToKissTheCook
12 years ago

I find this perfect. Even in my comparably solitary life, I find myself pacing, invisible tail thwacking the bars. Deep breaths…the air is getting cooler and that seems to help.

Someone Being Me
12 years ago

Amen. You basically just wrote exactly what I am feeling these days.

Jenine
12 years ago

Thanks for the words.

I sometimes feel that I can almost see my life force being consumed in order to ‘power’ my children. I want nothing more than to give them a good launch in this world. But it’s a little appalling to know how much of my energy and life goes into them.

chrisubus
chrisubus
12 years ago

Wow. I’m there too.

workout mommy
12 years ago

THANK YOU for reminding me I am NOT the only one who feels this way sometimes. (unlike some of the preschool moms who insist their child is the perfect cherub and never misbehaves, therefore there must be something horribly wrong with me and my children!)

Katherine
12 years ago

This post totally made me cry. That could be because I’m already having a pretty rough day. But I’d like to think that it is because you have caught all the emotions just perfectly. We all feel like terrible mothers sometimes and your writing really helps me realize I’m not a terrible mother. I’m a normal mother just trying her hardest.

Andrea
12 years ago

Were you at my house this weekend? Because it was fucking relentless, and I wanted to scream. Instead, I laughed in mockery at my kids’ misery. It was either that or run far far away.

Then last night, I got the biggest, fattest hug and I love you, Mommy from my oldest after my youngest nuzzled her face into my chest and voluntarily gave me a kiss, which she NEVER does.

Sometimes, I think that coin is actually 6 sided.

Christine
Christine
12 years ago

It’s all been said but I will say it again: You must have been living in my own head and heart when you wrote that.

Yes. I understand.

Thank you.

Kathryn
Kathryn
12 years ago

I feel like I am not able to devote 100% to any of my jobs: mother, wife, daughter, friend, CPA. Man, I feel so guilty all the time. It’s ‘nice’ to know that I’m not the only one. You are not the only one.

Heather
12 years ago

You rock.

This is an important piece of work, lady.

Jill
12 years ago

I love this. I loved this writing. You must have been in my head… just able to express it perfectly.

Mandy
Mandy
12 years ago

Yes, yes, and yes. Thank you for this. God I’m so glad you write about this stuff, reminding us that it’s OK to be human.

js
js
12 years ago

Thank you, this made me tear up. You are so honest in your writing. I love that you share the bad moments as well as the good. The yanking the kid across the bench and yelling? I’ve been there too many times, wanting to make my kid feel just as rotten as I do, knowing that it’s wrong, but not caring at the moment. I told my daughter this weekend, to “shut the hell up already”. I felt rotten. But I feel better now that I’m reminded that we all get to this point.

Allison
12 years ago

Yeah… just… yeah. This is pretty much me in a nutshell. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone!

Bekki Buenviaje
Bekki Buenviaje
12 years ago

I’m the mother of two small children too. One has autism, and wow, what you wrote is so right on.

Stephanie
Stephanie
12 years ago

Yup, that’s pretty much it. Exactly.

sarah
sarah
12 years ago

Never has there been a post more perfectly suited or more desperately needed for how I’m feeling. Being a mom is 40 kajillion times harder than I ever thought it would be.
thank you for your honesty and your amazingly powerful way with words.

Chris
Chris
12 years ago

I had no idea there were so many women that felt this way, I thought I was the only one. Yes, yes and yes, this morning I was feeling so fucking guilty because I rushed through booktime last night with my 3 1/2 year old because I was tired, wanted to get her to bed ASAP and because I hate doing it. There I said it, I HATE READING TO HER BEFORE BED. I hate working, but I hate being home with her sometimes too. It’s so fucking hard.

Deb
Deb
12 years ago

Me too.

Some days it’s like I am separate from my body, watching in horror at what I spew out on the tiny people I love more than anything. And I lay in bed every night counting the ways I fucked it up that day and praying I am not leaving permanent scars.

Praying my children don’t grow up to lay in bed talking about me to their spouses the way I lay in bed and talk about my parents to my spouse.

So yeah, me too.

Kate
12 years ago

Thank you. Just, thank you. If only I could have read this yesterday.

CB
CB
12 years ago

Christ, sitting at my desk wiping my eyes. This is why we all read to so-called “mommy blogs.” Thanks, Linda.

jonniker
12 years ago

Of course we understand. Even though I love being a mom more than anything in the world, there have been times when I have, uhhh, yelled. At my infant. For not sleeping. Nice, right? YELLING AT AN INFANT.

I shudder to think of the patience-draining toddler years. I sure hope I can grow a little more by then. Thank GOD they’re cute and loved and adorable. THANK GOD.

ro
ro
12 years ago

You described my weekend in a way that I could never even begin to–hadn’t even tried to look at it with such clarity. Tragic and beautiful. The life of a mother. You are beyond awesome.

Stacey
Stacey
12 years ago

This is beautiful and heartbreaking all at once.
It also could’ve been just as aptly called:
“Parenthood”.
Thanks again for giving words to what I think most of us feel.

Barbara
Barbara
12 years ago

Great post…you said it all. Mommy guilt, Mourning the loss of yourself as an individual and never being able to feel that we do anything 100%. Ain’t Motherhood grand?

Kim
Kim
12 years ago

Thank You.

Just hours ago, I tried (and failed) to handle my daughter’s WORST temper tantrum EVER while in the middle of a shopping center.

Can’t tell you how perfectly the words fit my day.

Greg S.
Greg S.
12 years ago

Great format.

And that pretty much sums up all my fears and what I look forward to about having children of my own. I guess the ambivalence never goes away, then?

erin
12 years ago

thank you for your candor. looks like we all can relate to your sentiments. it’s like we strive – not to be perfect – but to be even, stable, patient, and okay with this lot that is bringing up children. every. single. blessed. day.

Nicole Whitlow
Nicole Whitlow
12 years ago

Linda,
True words, and I’m sure those who can relate are parents. Children take you to that threshold many times more often than not. I ask myself sometimes, how can someone so small teach me so much about myself? Amazing really. It is challenging not to react, challenging to even observe yourself in the moment of the reaction, not to be overtaken by the reaction. You write and say how we feel, what we think about ourselves. Your writing is powerful. In those moments I ask myself to breathe, have some mercy for myself. I know that I’am a loving and good mother, like I know you are a loving and good mother. When you know better, you can do better. Your children intuitively know this. I’m sure like my children your children are forgiving and as loving as their mother. Thank you, Nicole

Sara @ Belle Plaine
12 years ago

This touched me, deeply. Thank you.

MEP
MEP
12 years ago

Deb hit the nail on the head. I think I can live with myself as long as I don’t parent the way I was parented.

As a mom of an older child, I remember those toddler years vividly. Your words brought them right back to me. I think it’s unfair to beat yourself up for wanting these hard days to go faster, and for moms of older kids to guilt you for it. Every single day, good or bad, has the same amount of minutes in it.

I promise you it does get much, much better. And I can’t wait to read what you write about those better days as well.

GingerB
12 years ago

It is indeed a design feature to make them so fucking cute and inclined to love you even if you scream like a banshee. Even though I know she still loves me, I wish I hadn’t shouted so much this weekend.