“I love my kid so much, I watch her when she is taking a nap. I sneak up to her crib very quietly and observe her. It is the highlight of my day. Sometimes I am tempted to wake her up so I can play with her.” – a woman at the playground
When I heard that, I felt as if I was punched in the gut. I had never, in my few years as a parent, felt that way. I celebrated the time when my son took a nap after lunch. Did this woman have some kind of innate mothering instinct that I lacked?
“These days do you feeling lethargic. Are you getting frequent headaches and feel a loss of identity. Do you rarely if ever get time to yourself anymore? Well then, you might be suffering from PARENTING”. Don’t worry, there’s a cure. Although, I’m gonna be that mom for a second and say I can’t help but think how many more symptoms this video could list if it starred a woman.
It was early in the morning. Time to go to work and this is when (single-) parenting is pretty tough. My son was in a shitty mood, did not want to go to school, wanted to wear no shoes because it is cool, also no jacket and just had issues with everything. I got dressed in my bedroom and I said
Parenting is simply something that many women struggle to enjoy, or at least find themselves loathing a decent percentage of the time. For me, the day-out vagaries of parenting are what is a hard pass. When I told some of the mom’s at my son’s school that I will write this article, I got a few raised eyebrows. Some perhaps reacted to the relative darkness of this topic but I rather would argue that those women are the born-moms and are willing to expose themselves to it all. Well, I am not.
Let’s be honest. Locking yourself in the bathroom helps sometimes but is not the solution either. Sometimes it is the sheer, repetitive monotony of parenting that makes me want to run away. Packing lunches, unpacking backpacks, washing out containers, cleaning a huge amount of clothes, making sure he brushes his teeth, and whatnot. Parenting is just this strange mix of predictability and unpredictability, and that drives me crazy sometimes.
As for myself, I am balancing making a career, making a living and caring for an almost six-year-old by myself. I also know that it is usually the women who bear the brunt of this balancing act. Some days, It is just a lot. For example, after-school activities: soccer, swimming, and guitar lessons have to be balanced. I am not the type of parent who buys into the idea that all these activities are vital for the development of my child but he loves it all so much, so I will take him. All this takes scheduling, time, staying there with him, filling out forms and paying for it all. I just need to make a bit of room for myself, too to stay sane.
The other brutal reality about children: A child exposes the gulf between my fantasy about family and the realities, where my old way of life can feel out of reach and my expectations are way different than reality. It feels to me like I have to choose between long-time satisfaction with moment-to-moment happiness (and spending my day doing stuff I don’t really like so I can make him happy; such as spending 5! hours at the playground). But I carve out time to do the things I love (writing, drinking coffee in peace, reading) but it is more of retrospective happiness – not one evidenced by how much I actually enjoy what I do from hour to hour.
But, what I also love is the bond between my son and I. I sometimes suck at making “pig-muffins” (apparently that is a thing in Vienna now) but I am great at talking to my son for hours, teaching and reading to him, creating things, art, music, exploring books, and puns and make it overall clear to him that I am always here for him, no matter what. I think it is normal to be annoyed by parenting and
How do I deal with the single-parenting thing? Ideas to make things more pleasant is to outsource whatever you can, whenever you can, from finding other like-minded parents, grandparents, babysitters, friends so that you can have more time to do what you love. Whatever you need to do to recover. Just accept incongruity. There is this radical notion that two opposing ideas can coexist at the same time: You can love your kid(s) while simultaneously hating a lot of the day-to-day shit that mothering entails.
From mother to mother: Things that will keep you sane
- A trip away alone or with a partner. I needed some time to finally relax on the first time I left on a trip alone while my son stayed with my parents (always leave kids with people whom you trust) Initially, I was terrified and sad. Will he be fine? Maybe I should have taken him? At the airport, I bought a banana because he loves to eat those realizing I am only responsible for my own snacks. Wow, how surreal. I will have a glass of red wine and chocolate then. Flying or doing anything without kid(s) is basically a SPA. As soon as the plane landed, I felt happy and thrilled. I had the most relaxing time ever because I left my parenting-self behind.
- An evening out: Having time away from your children is essential. If I don’t work, I write, read, hang at my favorite bookstore, museums, explore….. alone time. You are not failing as a parent if and when you spend time alone. Establish a relationship with your child(ren) that works for you.
- Don’t feel guilty. You still have a life, too. A small one, but hey. I need to require space of my own for thinking, feeling, and feeling my center.
- I am generally a better and calmer person now that he spends his day in school. I am happy to see him growing into an independent individual, one who requires his own recharge time and enjoys quite building and art activities.
- Institute quiet time (for one hour). I scheduled a designated quiet time when I just need to be by myself at home and my son is in his room. This gives me a mental break. We actually even close the doors and each is in their room doing their own thing. I usually have a cup of tea and read a book.
- Find a mom who endless F-bombs and become best friends.
I think “The Honest Mom-Genre” will and should be a series. What do you think?