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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Christy
Christy
13 years ago

My most recent stellar parenting moment ended with this quote, (imagine it in all caps, eye level with an almost 3yo) “If you ever crap on my floor again I am going to beat the tar out of you.”

Candle flowers…what a perfect description! I’m totally stealing that.

Lisa
Lisa
13 years ago

Wonderfully stated. Been there and back more times than I care to admit with my own three…hang in there!

Jenn
Jenn
13 years ago

How did you see right inside my heart?

Jenn Co.
Jenn Co.
13 years ago

Yes. Exactly that.

Belle
Belle
13 years ago

Man, that was terrific.

Maria
13 years ago

I remember telling myself all the things that I would not (and would) be. I would not be a screamer. But then there are days, more often than I like to admit, when I am just that. It’s good for us all to take a step back and realize that we are only human. They will forgive us much more easily than we will forgive ourselves.

happymom
happymom
13 years ago

I am very sad at your dismay. Soon may they be at better ages you enjoy more or maybe be something parttime out of the house would make the “bad/frustrating moments” more tolerable and less consuming and you would be able to Appreciate All that your most proud item can deliver/ good luck

Lesley
Lesley
13 years ago

Amazing piece. I hope it goes in your book.

Alexa
Alexa
13 years ago

Pumps fist is air! Right on sistah!

Lora
Lora
13 years ago

There..

sue
sue
13 years ago

good God woman. are you TRYING to make me cry??

you are Every Mom.

you are the honest voice of motherhood.
you are strong and courageous because you SAY the things the rest of us only THINK.
you make me Not Alone in the whole being-a-mom-is-the-best/worst-thing-i’ve-ever-done thing.

anyone who says differently is a LIAR.

Erin W
13 years ago

I love you and think we could be best friends. Not because I’m a weird stalker but mostly because you just read my mind.

Amanda
Amanda
13 years ago

I mostly want to say: Get Published Now. (I realize this blog is being published–but I think you need a BIGGER audience.)

Gleemonex
13 years ago

Not the first time you’ve brought me to tears, Linda, but the first time I’ve been just open-mouthed SHOCKED at how you can write what I feel. This part, since no one else has pointed it out yet, let’s highlight:

—–
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

Melissa
13 years ago

yes.

Sarcastic Mom / Lotus
13 years ago

Yes. Just, yes.

thank you

Melissa
Melissa
13 years ago

Linda – I feel exactly the same way. Every single line and word. You are not alone in how you feel and I’m grateful you have the balls to put that out there because I feel like a lot of moms are scared to admit these feelings. Being a mother is frighteningly complex and brutal. The tone you used and regretted, the anger, everything….it actually was a relief to read this. Thank you. Seriously – thank you.

Mandy
13 years ago

Thank you for this!!! You help me feel normal!

Hilary
13 years ago

Yeah, when someone says I’m a good mom, I think to myself, “But you don’t see me when the toddler is screaming and the preschooler is whining and I LOSE it.” But we love them and they love us, and, in the end, these aren’t the things we’ll remember from this time. But that doesn’t make it any easier in the moment.

katie
13 years ago

I’ve read this several times over the course of today and, though I don’t usually comment, I just had to say thank you for writing this. I share custody with my son’s dad and oh my god I miss him so terribly and I have a physical ache when he’s gone. He’s 2 years old and oh my god, is he so 2. This morning when I was dropping him off at daycare, I snapped and yelled at him because he was just whining, whining, whining about dropping his Thomas the Train and he wanted a cookie and I was late and it was all so frustrating. But now I feel like a total asshole and I just want to hug him and hold him, but I won’t see him until Sunday. When I get him back next week, he won’t remember, but I will. And all I can do is hope to remember this poem and not feel so alone and overwhelmed next time. Every day I can try to be better, to have more patience. Some days it’s just a lot fucking harder than others.

Madeleine
Madeleine
13 years ago

Wow – I don’t think I’ve ever heard my feelings so well expressed by someone else. I have two boys also – one turned 4 last week and one is 21 months, so I definitely get it.

Madeleine
Madeleine
13 years ago

Oh and BTW, I’m a stay at home mom and lately I wish I was back at work. When I was still working (before #2 was born) I wished I was home with my boy.

Kami Lewis Levin
13 years ago

And that’s how today went down. I threw a stepstool across the room. (But first I made sure no one was in the way…) I was just so – done. This is so hard and so beautiful and so heart-wrenching and so so so filled with love. This whole parenting thing. Thank you.

Amanda
13 years ago

Perfect. So right on. Thank you.

Jenny
Jenny
13 years ago

Please write a book. Please, so I don’t have to have this by itself on some computer paper on my shelf.

Nicole
Nicole
13 years ago

I so get this.

Kathy
Kathy
13 years ago

I thought this was beautiful and touching and so absolutely true (especially the part about turning on the tv – will I ever stop feeling guilty about that?)

But it is what Kristy wrote about above that made me cry when I read it: “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.” Because underneath it all that is my biggest fear and source of anxiety…that I’m not appreciating it enough, and soon it will be too late, and I’ll look back and all I’ll see is the ways I could have been a better mother, and how come I couldn’t find a way to enjoy it more? I am trying so hard! But yet I have the sinking feeling that I’m not trying hard enough.

Thank you so much for sharing this and providing this forum.

Nicole
Nicole
13 years ago

I hear you, sista. Every single word.

Kate
Kate
13 years ago

I understand perfectly because you word it so well.

Kelsey
13 years ago

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

Ugh! And YES, even though I technically just have the one job – I often feel I’m failing at so many aspects of it.

Donna Y
Donna Y
13 years ago

Thank you.

Bel
Bel
13 years ago

So, what? You’re all condoning abusive behavior by an adult towards a four year old? Abusing a child is never okay, and although it might make you all feel better that other people are doing it too, it’s still not okay.

rms
rms
13 years ago

I don’t have kids. I’ve always trusted your voice as an honest look into parenthood. This piece gave me goosebumps. I loved it. Your honesty is poignant and beautiful.

Jen
Jen
13 years ago

Bel – 1. Are you a mom? 2. She did not physically abuse her child. She did grab his shirt, she did yell at him & unfortunately most mom’s have yelled. I yell, not often but mom’s are people too & sometimes we are pushed over the edge. Some can walk away, some yell, some shut down & some hit. She is not proud of what happened, no mom is when they lose their cool. This blog didn’t make me think it’s OK when I yell but it did help me not feel so alone when I’m on the brink…that feeling alone will help me keep my cool in the future.

Heather
Heather
13 years ago

Every mom of more than one child feels this way at one time or another. There is nothing at all with having feelings of anger, being fed up or needing a break. Those are all natural feelings small children can elicit from you. Being with them 24/7 with no breaks and no help can become overwhelming. Thank you for writing this and letting me know I am not the only one that feels this way sometimes.

Victoria
13 years ago

Hugs

Erin's mom
Erin's mom
13 years ago

Really, Bel? Have you never yelled at your child? Have you never found yourself at the end of your proverbial rope? I guess not as you seem to be casting judgment on those parents who are authentic; who deal with the day-to-day-ness of life.
To all the real mothers out there; I have been there. This bit of prose was forwarded to me by my daughter who has, despite her flawed upbringing, become, perhaps because of her flawed upbringing, one of the best parents I’ve ever observed!
Sometimes even the best people have a bad moment, Bel. I hope your kids will forgive you for your eventual meltdown. Don’t beat yourself up too badly, though. They too will come through the storm and be stronger for it. Perhaps even you will, too!

Melis
Melis
13 years ago

Thank you. Thank you for every word. For every honest, fucked up feeling because as someone told me just this past week, “this shit is hard” and everything you said above-including the chicken-has been happening in my own house and I feel like a total dick about it. Even after I say sorry over and over again. But tomorrow morning? He’ll still want me to take him to school and I just can’t think that if I was messing him up too badly he would continue this request.

willikat
13 years ago

Thank you for your “Russian dolls” and for this:
“Sometimes
I don’t feel particularly
good at
any of my
jobs”
Even those of us who aren’t parents feel these things.
And thanks, again, for a brave portrait of motherhood.

Bel
Bel
13 years ago

If someone several times your size and strength grabbed you by your shirt, pulled you across a kitchen bench, yanked you to your feet, and yelled in your face, would you say that behavior was abusive? I would. It does not matter that it is a mother who has lost control and didn’t really mean to do it.

If one adult treats another adult that way it constitutes assault. Should parents be allowed to hurt, humiliate, and frighten their children? I don’t think so. It leaves scars. It affects who children become. It makes children afraid and mistrustful. I’m sorry if you don’t like to hear the truth, but treating a child that way is not okay, ever.

abs
abs
13 years ago

Linda’s mention of grabbing R’s shirt and yelling really loud is not abusive at all. If you take out the impulsive nature driving it, it could be aurgued as being a method of discipline. Obviously not used everyday but you ned to ask “why was she driven this far” if the childs behavior has gotten to such a degree that he will not follow rules and is intentinaly pushing his mothers buttons then this method (used very rarely) could be the wake up call that he needs to stop the shit.

TinaNZ
TinaNZ
13 years ago

We parents can be so tough on ourselves, can’t we? We love our children so much but that doesn’t take away from the fact that looking after them is sometimes boring, frustrating and stressful. Children have to learn how to get along with others, and part of that is discovering that other people do not have endless patience, and CAN be pushed to snapping point. If we were all superhuman and could deal calmly and placidly with any amount of whining, sulking, food-fiddling or whatever, how would our children ever know when they’re being obnoxious? Better to get yelled at occasionally by a loving but momentarily-overstretched parent, than to grow up as someone who never considers how their actions affect others.

Smileen
13 years ago

Bel.. go back to therapy.

JAB
JAB
13 years ago

Very well said…thank you for putting into such eloquent words what I myself feel so often. You are a GOOD mother!

Lori
Lori
13 years ago

Wow that was hard to read. The line between beautiful joy and overwhelmed ugly is pretty fine sometimes. All I know is that parenting is the hardest, most depleting thing I have ever done.

Nicole
Nicole
13 years ago

I have come back to read this three times today. Yes!

CM
CM
13 years ago

Thank you so much…

Lesley
Lesley
13 years ago

Bel, you’re obviously not a regular reader and don’t “get it.”

Scott Dierdorf
13 years ago

Sing it, sister.