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.


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11 years ago

Yes. Yes.

11 years ago

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.

11 years ago

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.”

Joselle Palacios
10 years ago

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!