This Parenting Thing is Hard. Am I alone?

Deep Breath. This parenting thing is hard. Exhale. There, I said it. This parenting thing is hard.

And not in a smiling way right now. Not with a caveat, but so, so worth it (insert squeezing of happy baby here).

Yes. I am grateful for my children and the joy they bring, and yes I am overcome by the smallest moments with the tiniest hands sometimes.

But right now? If I am totally honest. It is just so hard. And I am struggling. I write a lot about purposefully raising girls that are wild and free like the God I hope they one day love. And I am still doing that, at least, I am trying. But if I am honest, there are days I would trade the wild and free for quiet and polite just to hear my husband while we attempt to have a conversation on our way to church.

I’m a yeller. I know this comes as no surprise with my inclination to use ALL CAPS ON TWITTER. I think it is genetic, though I don’t remember being raised in a house where yelling was the norm. I do know we were loud. It made my mother crazy. Sometimes, in the car she would put her hands over her ears just to hear herself think. My grandmother used to take her hearing aid out because we were all just too loud. It was her that taught us to yell to be heard. That one was a cycle we could never seem to break. I seem to be continuing the cycle in my own home.

But I also know, that the yelling was done mostly out of joy and being boisterous, that the hard teaching moments my parents passed to me came in quiet voices, sometimes both of us crying. (I’m looking at you dad.) I know that the lessons out of anger never stuck, and the ones out of love, I can quote them verbatim. (“We don’t hit people, people who hit people go to jail” He was a defense attorney, I figured he knew.)

I’ve been yelling too much and crouching down to see their situation too little. I’ve been hurrying too often and playing not enough.

Please don’t tell me that I will one day regret wishing away these moments. And please don’t tell me that mothering is my most important job. I am awesome at shaming myself. Trust me.

I am afraid to admit that this thing is hard. A room full of thirty-five teenagers and the six functions of a noun? Bring it on. An auditorium of a hundred people and a Bible passage, I would love to! But a two-year old, a three-year old a dress up box, and a reminder on my phone that I need to take them potty every hour and I am undone, checking the clock relentlessly as it slowly marches to bedtime.

Am I allowed to say that? Can I tell you that it is hard and frustrating and sometimes I meet screaming with screaming because I can be louder?  Having a three-year-old look you in the face and tell you “please don’t talk mean to me” is a wake up call I would rather not experience again. But I probably will. I probably will need her reminder.

The more I bury this part of my life, that I am afraid you will hate or judge or shame, the more I smile and tell you I am fine and they are fine and there are no struggles because I am too busy being delighted by the fact that they find magical shapes in everything including their own poop, (Seriously, what is with that?), the more I yell and hurry, and not use my words to love them.

The more I try to hide my shortcomings as a mother, the more they rule my time at home.

I don’t think I am alone in this, in this space where it is so.hard. but I pretend it is so.good. and not the hard-good that it is but all rainbows and butterflies and glitter (oh have mercy my house is covered in glitter) and magic. It is. It is all of those things, but sometimes it is hard. So danged hard. And sometimes I need to hear that I am not alone. That I am not the only one who misses her kids through the day and comes home and wishes for bedtime. Not every day, not  all the time, but some days, and sometimes there are three some days in a row.

I guess what I am wondering is, am I alone? Are you struggling through this to? Does it get better? Do your kids turn out okay, even if you have to apologize to them on the regular?

I just need to know I am not the only one.


25 thoughts on “This Parenting Thing is Hard. Am I alone?

  1. Yes. It IS hard. But we don’t do it because it is easy. We do it because God instilled in us agape love, and that is what our children get from us, no matter the trials, no matter the burdens, no matter the pain. We just love them. You know this. And we give them to God (you know this too), we do the parenting He asks us to do, and then we trust in Him that it will turn out alright in the end. That last bit is the part that you are wondering about – we all wonder and hope and pray for the best for our kids.

    Trust Him with your kids.

    We know how to trust him with our selves and our lives, but it feels like a jump to trust Him with our children and their lives.

    Hang in there Mom, you are NOT alone.

    • So right to trust God with your kids. You are not in control of their lives anyway and he can do a great job. He loves better than we possibly can imagine.

      And, my kids turned out OK, despite my shortcomings.

  2. Emergency room visits, broken windows, even police station visits… yes, I am with you. The most important things require the most effort… and the most trust in God.

    He uses every life situation to give us character — if we let him. I learned heaps about my limits. I learned about my pride and vanity. Then, I started to learn about loving and trusting. And about how to be strong in his grace.

    IT WAS NOT EASY! IT STUNK! (I refrain from using expletives here.)

    But later, God’s glory shows through. The best thing you can teach your kids is not how great of a parent you are, but how much you trust in the Lord Jesus.

    Sending you a blessing and a prayer…

  3. Ha! You are most definitely NOT alone! Does it get any easier? My daughter’s 15, I’ll let you know if it ever does. Just last night I wrote over and over in my journal “parenting is not for the faint of heart”. It is hard. And yes, I trust that my children are in His hands and that he has a plan for them – but that doesn’t make it any easier to hear her say “nothing” or “I don’t want to talk about it” every time I ask her a question about something she posted on Twitter or what’s bothering her or a myriad of other questions that may arise in a day. It doesn’t make it any easier when she’s answered me in “that” tone of voice for the 15th million time today (at times I feel like I’ve forgotten what her real tone of voice sounds like!). Needless to say I feel like I should call my mother daily to apologize for my teen age years. Do I love her? Of course, more than I could ever say, but some moments I don’t like her very much (can I say that? Yes, I just did. Please no one condemn me…). No my friend, you are not alone.

  4. Not even close to alone. We have regular conversations about how we are the only ones in charge of ourselves – our words, our voices – and how what someone else does is no excuse to make a wrong choice ourselves. I have to apologize often, for exactly that. It is so extremely hard. I am thankful for their capacity to love me just because I’m their mom. I need to learn that from them, that love just because, not “because everything has gone well”.

  5. You are not alone. Call me and you can hear it because I will say it to you. I love the baby phase. I am dreading the moving around, talking back, have a mind of their own, have to entertain them phase. I fear getting bored while playing with my own child and know that there will be times that the clock will not move fast enough toward those sweet moments she is asleep. It does not mean that we do not love our children/child and it does not mean we are a bad mom. Grace and growing and allowing God to use the good the bad and the ugly.

  6. It’s more hard moments than easy ones. I meltdown a lot. I apologize to my kids a lot. They have taught me more about grace than anyone else I have known. My house will get clean the next time I move and probably not before. I fantasize about having a week by myself at a monastery. I will probably be spending my wisdom-years catching up on lost sleep. I have no way to prove this to you or myself, but I choose to believe it is going to get better, in spite of reason, because I can’t function without believing it. How’s that for a leap of faith? I sooo hear you; also I don’t have any good solutions. But I am all up in that solidarity boat with you.

  7. For every person who admits their shortcomings, many times more are freed of the pressure to do the impossible and be perfect in every moment.

    As I read this, I felt myself relaxing just a little bit. As I prepare to become a parent, there are so many pressures and expectations placed by society that I feel I can’t ever uproot them all. So please don’t shame yourself. Your kids are unlikely to remember the ‘bad times’. You may, but they’ll remember the good stuff most of the time and look back on these times fondly.

    You are awesome! Thank you so much for sharing. Ironically, this was right after I read a passage in Friendship with God about transparency! lol So well done!

  8. Lordy lordy – YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Did you notice I used “all caps” there? It is perfectly fine to admit that not every moment is special. You are completely normal. Even Jesus needed to get away from the disciples once in a while!
    When my oldest was about 2 1/2 I got a call from an older woman at church. She asked, “How are you?” I decided to be kind of honest. Instead of answering, “fine,” I said, “I have a two year old.” After a pause, she replied, “Well, there’s no cure for that.” She gifted me with a good laugh that I desperately needed!
    Your kids are at rough ages, give yourself a break. Prayers are with you…

  9. They don’t call it the terrible 2’s and 3’s for nothing! I am not at that stage yet, but I know it will be hard when I get there. Just remember, even though you are counting down the hours to bedtime some days (who isn’t?), you are still PRESENT and a beautiful, positive presence in those girls lives.
    Also, I think there is a reason God makes us so that when we grow up, our first memories usually start from the ages of 4-5!

  10. Of course you love your children, and you’re a great mom. Of course these toddler moments are precious and blah, blah, blah. You’ve heard it before.

    And sometimes what a parent needs is to be away from the kids, because it’s so hard to deal with them all the time. Sometimes putting them in front of the TV for a while is really ok. Sometimes getting the nearest relative or family friend to take the kids away from you for a few hours is the best thing for you to do. Do all those things. None of them means that you aren’t treasuring all that precious stuff. You are. You are a hell of a mother. And being driven off the edge by your wonderful kids is the common denominator that equalizes all parents.

  11. Thanks for writing this. Just what I needed to hear today, after my 3 year-old asked me that exact question. Sigh … It is hard. Appreciate your honesty so much here. Truly.

  12. Yes. As others have said, you’re not alone. I was reading something about Gods calling recently and the writer said that clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, that bit about the sheep and the goats… That looking after our own dependent babies and children is doing THAT! Because God is hidden in other people of any age. Because being a mum is a vocation. I found it mind blowing.
    Also, as parents we do go into the world of the child. What’s big to them SEEMS big to us. We join in their games and their tears. We go down to their level sk they know that we love them. Like Jesus did by coming into our world. But it’s not easy. When yours are older they will play together more. Sometimes you do just have to put a DVD on. It is hard work. Don’t beat yourself up.

  13. Oh Abby, you are so not alone. Thank you for saying this out loud and without sugar coating. It is just so hard, and it seems like it takes everything out of you and then some. You’re not alone.

  14. You? Having girls who are loud and outgoing? Never would have believed it… 🙂

    Of course parenting is hard. It’s so hard, it’s a miracle any of us grow up even remotely normal (for relative values of normal, anyway). And just when one thing gets easier (yay, he can sit up and play with me somewhat now!), another thing gets harder (crap, now he can reach for things). But we keep trying, because it’s worth the effort and doubt and sleepless nights to create another awesome human being for the world. Plus you’re not allowed to sell them on eBay, not that I’ve checked or anything.

    • Laura,
      You are right. My kids are 26, 24, and 21 and it never stops being hard. The hard just changes clothes. In the midst of all of the hard and enveloping it is wonder; wonder being able to help another soul navigate this world; wonder of being loved no matter what; wonder of joys words cannot describe.

  15. My daughters are grown now. I always had to deal with two types of relationships, being a parent and being a friend. I would hear what others said “you have to be the parent” but I was also a person in relationship with my girls and when they did something deliberately to hurt me, it really hurt me and I wanted to react the way a person who has been hurt reacts. It was a tough ballance, being the parent and being the friend. When they got older I had to deal with the sneers and rolled eyes. I wouldn’t take it. That’s not how people who care about each other treat each other. I know I was supposed to be the parent, but not at the expense of not being a fellow human being. Somehow it worked. We are great friends now. And in Jr. high when all of the other parents said their kids wouldn’t allow them to come into the classroom, I went in every day for 2 month to help the class with a musical. So my advice is to be the parent to the extent that you can, but be a person who insists on being treated as a person, and that means battles, but they are battles that lead to a continuing relationship.

    Not sure if that made any sense, but basically I’m saying you’re doing good.

  16. Abby,
    I wish I could tell you it gets easier as they get older but my experience is not that. It gets different but remains hard but is worth the heartaches and pain. I think all that is worthwhile cost us something and this wonderful thing of being a parent to another soul is all wonderful and glorious tied up in hardship and tears.

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