A Brutally (Possibly Too) Honest Moment About Parenting

UnknownAlways, every second of every moment of every day with every part of myself, I love my daughter. But sometimes, during those seconds and moments and parts, I truly don’t like her very much.

Before I had a child, I heard parents say things like that and I would think, quite frankly, it was bullshit.  I wasn’t necessarily judgmental of them because I’ve always had a well of compassion for how difficult parenting is.  But at the same time, that compassion battled some very high expectations I set for parents in general, and later myself.

The Divine Miss M heads off to camp soon, her first that involves extended overnight stays. I am a little anxious and a lot nervous for her.  It could be an amazing, empowering experience and I mostly think it will be.  At the same time, a part of me worries because she doesn’t know anyone else going and socially, she’s always been a bit challenged.

Having said that, the timing of camp could not possibly be better.  Every parent gets mad or frustrated or loses their patience but I’m somewhere else right now, somewhere beyond that.  Our daughter possesses phenomenal qualities of intelligence, brilliantly dry wit, occasionally compassion, and flashes of insight into human nature that both astound me and fill me with pride.  But recently, she has also been exceptionally difficult damn near impossible to deal with.  I know a lot of it is perfectly normal for her age.  Maybe no other parents reach this point and my current feelings are the result of my own shortcomings.  But the constant disregard of everything we say because she’s decided we’re wrong or don’t know what we’re talking about, the perverse sense of entitlement where nothing is ever enough or appreciated, the hideous degree to which she can be self-centered and the utterly relentless battle of wills and pushing of boundaries is, at this point, just demoralizing.

As parents, Jodi and I are probably incapable of raising a daughter who is easily compliant.  I know that.  M’s strong-will, demanding nature, independent thinking and tendency to question every damn thing are all qualities any child of ours is bound to possess. All qualities I actually want her to have in the long run. But I apparently have my limits on how much I can deal with and navigate and I’ve reached a point where the only immediate word that comes to mind when I think about my daughter is ‘relentless.’ She is just relentless in Every. Single. Thing.  At one point this week, during yet another deteriorating conversation, I looked at her and thought, “I’m not mad. I don’t even feel anger. I’m not even sure I’m frustrated anymore. I just don’t like you. At all. As a person.“  And then I walked into our bedroom, closed the door and cried.

No doubt as we begin to pack her bags for camp, I will grow increasingly nervous and excited for her because this experience could be many things and I so, so hope all of those things are good and positive.  I realize as we’re driving away, I’ll be fighting back tears.  And then we’ll get home and the house will seem increasingly quiet and way too neat.  Within a couple of days, our Lab will begin fretting and trying to make us notice M’s not here because obviously that must have escaped our attention.  And I know I will miss her terribly. None of that changes because, like most parents, I love her more than I could ever adequately describe in mere words.  But I am honest enough to acknowledge that right now, I need this camp as much as she does.  I need a break that won’t be solved by her having an overnight with a friend or me getting an hour or two to myself. Maybe camp will help us both re-set and if not, maybe it will at least give me a chance to get back to the parent I want to be, because this definitely isn’t it.

(Note: If this is the first post you’ve ever read on this blog, you’re likely to think I’m a terrible, bitter parent who should never have been allowed to have kids.  And perhaps, in a week or two, I might be horrified enough by these words to agree with you but right now, all I’d be able to say is get over yourself. Read more, judge less.).

This entry was posted in Parenting. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to A Brutally (Possibly Too) Honest Moment About Parenting

  1. Julia says:

    I just couldn’t appreciate you anymore than I do now. :*)

  2. Tribe member says:

    You sound exactly like every parent I have ever known and exactly as I’m sure my Mom felt at least once (a week) when I was The Divine’s age. I know it doesn’t help to know this, but one of these days, when she is older (oh, around 50) and is out on her own in the world, she will miss simpler times when she lived at home, she will be in awe at how wise her parents were and are. She will be surprised how often she thinks of them during the day and at how often her parents wisdom comes through to her as she makes her way through life. One day she will appreciate how very, very blessed her life has been. Hang on, Chica. Life is bumpy, but it makes the ride all the more thrilling.

    • Jen says:

      You have always held your parents in such high esteem it is difficult for me to imagine you ever doing otherwise, but I suppose we all do that as teenagers. I hope she feels a little the way you do now when she is older. I guess time will tell.

  3. Sharon says:

    The decathection that must occur for her to prepare to be independent is natural, and so is your reaction. This will pass, but I wish I could say that that will be the end of your feelings. But that would be a lie. I have told you many times that having a child is like letting your heart walk around outside of your body. Once the teaching opportunities are over, and she is an adult, it is almost harder. It seems they sometimes forget the sacrifice, or avoid you because they think you might ask them for something. Even if that “something” is just a hug, or an “I’m sorry you are sad, or struggling with a problem, or I would make it go away if I could….” But sometimes there is just silence. How can they forget all the times you were there for them? I don’t know. But love abides, and they will always be the best part of yourself. <3

    • Tribe Member says:

      “Love abides and they will always be the best part of yourself”. Truer word were never written, Sharon. I love that.

    • Jen says:

      I have always admired you as a parent, followed your example more times than I can count and will continue to do so in the future. I’m counting on this passing, I am not counting on it being the last time I feel this way but maybe if I could just get my feet back under me for now. I think Laura is right, “But love abides, and they will always be the best part of yourself” is a wonderful statement. I will remind myself of that.

  4. Kristin S says:

    I’m already dealing with these feelings…they don’t go away, it looks like! I guess it just changes, the way kids test, argue, push boundaries, etc. Bllarrgghhh. What bugs me the most (but I know is actually the highest compliment to my parenting) is how angelic, polite, and perfectly well behaved Ethan is for his grandparents. They hardly believe he is the demonic creature he can be at home.

    I think you’re just a realist and thank you for sharing this. It’s harder than anyone can express to you before you have kids, to be a parent!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *