I am in a season of my life right now where I feel bone tired almost all the time. Ragged, how-am-I-going-to-make-it-to-the-end-of-the-day, eyes burning exhausted.
I have toddlers, Andrew 4, and Arywn 2. I’m not complaining about that. Well, maybe I am a little bit. But I know that there are people who would give anything for a house full of laughter & chaos.
But right now, in my actual life, it’s a rocky road, besides Andrew being on the spectrum and Arywn letting us know she is 2, I am in limbo deciding if I want to go back to work or not. Am I doing this to escape the chaos, partly to be bluntly honest yes, but right now in life, I am in limbo, I am how do I want to say a bit I feel lost. Andrew is in school 5 days a week all day and Arwyn is in school 3 days a week. I worked most of my adult life. I feel like they don’t need me anymore. Hell, they say it enough anyways. “No mommy,”
There are many moments where they are utterly delightful, like last week Andrew said love you mommy before bed. He never says that I mean never. He and Arywn are always rushing me out the door, mommy go to gym, why yes I am happy for my me, time, but geez they can’t kick me out fast enough.
But there are also many moments when I have no idea how I’m going to make it until their bedtime. The constant demands, the needs, and the fighting are fingernails across the chalkboard every single day.
The weekends Andy is on-call and has office hours is the day of course the day our ABA aid has to be off for a wedding, the whole weekend. How fucking pathetic am I that I can’t take care of both of my kids myself. I go out in public and have people talk shit about me or my son or point or I can hear or feel their stares. It’s not me, but that is my son, he’s, not a damn freak show… grow up assholes at Wholefoods and move along, nothing to see here. Waiting I’m sorry, am I not allowed to shop here since I live in Norwalk? Which is it. Can’t help it. I am still on Paleo 24 weeks now, and they sell my yogurt here, Kite Hill, I can’t get it anywhere else, if I could I would… a hem…
Change of tone… and subject well sort of…
One of my children is for sure going to be the next Steve Jobs. I now have immense empathy for his parents. He has a precise vision of what he wants — exactly that way and no other way. Sometimes it’s the way his plate needs to be centered exactly to his chair, or how his socks go on. (Andrew)
I must confess that sometimes the sound of his screaming drives me to hide in the bathroom. And I will neither confirm nor deny that while in there, if I scream or cry.
There are people who say this to me:
“You should enjoy every moment now! They grow up so fast!”
I usually smile and give some sort of guffaw, but inside, I secretly want to punch these people in the face
If you have friends with small children — especially if your children are now teenagers or if they’re grown – please vow to me right now that you will never say this to them. Not because it’s not true, but because it really, really doesn’t help.
We know it’s true that they grow up too fast. But feeling like I have to enjoy every moment doesn’t feel like a gift, it feels like one more thing that is impossible to do, and at right now, that list is way too long. Not every moment is enjoyable as a on the spectrum parent; it wasn’t for you, and it isn’t for me. You just have obviously forgotten. I can forgive you for that. But if you tell me to enjoy every moment one more time, I will need to break up with you.
If you are a parent of small children, you know that there are moments of spectacular delight, and you can’t believe you get to be around these little people. But let me be the one who says the following things out loud:
You are not a terrible parent if you can’t figure out a way for your children to eat as healthy as your friend’s children do. She’s obviously using a bizarre and probably illegal form of hypnotism.
You are not a terrible parent if you yell at your kids sometimes. You have little dictators living in your house. If someone else talked to you like that, they’d be put in prison.
You are not a terrible parent if you can’t figure out how to calmly give them appropriate consequences in real time for every single act of terrorism that they so creatively devise.
You are not a terrible parent if you’d rather get a full-time job
You are not a terrible parent if you just can’t wait for them to go to bed.
You are not a terrible parent if the sound of their voices sometimes makes you want to drink and never stop.
You’re not a terrible parent.
You’re an actual parent with limits. You cannot do it all. We all need to admit that one of the casualties specific to our information saturated culture is that we have sky-scraper standards for parenting, where we feel like we’re failing horribly if we feed our children chicken nuggets and we let them watch TV in the morning.
One of the reasons we are so exhausted is that we are over-saturated with information about the kind of parents we should be.
So maybe it’s time to stop reading the blogs that tell you how to raise the next President who knows how to read when she’s three and who cooks, not only eats, her vegetables. Maybe it’s time to embrace being the kind of parent who says sorry when you yell. Who models what it’s like to take time for yourself. Who asks God to help you to be a better version of the person that you are, not for more strength to be an ideal parent.
You’re not alone.