I know that everyone has heard the expression "day from hell." It's been used to describe everything from traffic to weather to work conditions to a death in the family. Everyone has their own barometer that defines what miserable is to them. Nightmares are subjective. What's a living hell to me might be only uncomfortable or an irritant to you. For example, that period of time when the boys were newborns and getting me up at all hours of the night to eat wasn't nearly as disturbing to me as it was for most other women. I certainly won't say that it was pleasant, I won't tell you that I would want to do it again, but it wouldn't be the thing that kept me from having another baby. However, I know of one woman who had a great pregnancy, an easy childbirth (relatively speaking), and pleasant hospital stay. But those first couple of months were a hell for her like nothing she had ever experienced. She had incredible difficulties adapting to the lack of sleep. Her baby wasn't colicky or a difficult eater, he just woke up every 3-4 hours like newborns do, and she couldn't cope well with that. What was easy for me to deal with was hard for her. On the flip side, though, we both had difficulties in our pregnancies. I worried it to death, bemoaned it, whined, and writhed around in pain. She was all "eh, it happens" and handled it like a champ. Again, what was miserable for me was just another thing for her.
My point (and I do have one) is that I expected some bad days as a parent. I expected some days when the kids would draw on the walls, they'd track mud through the house, they'd be bratty, all that great stuff. I expected days like that. But I never, ever expected days so bad that I would find myself sitting in the floor weeping, thinking "I was not meant to be a parent. I should never have had children. I am a terrible parent and these children would be better off with someone, anyone other than me. I don't know that I even want to be a parent anymore. I just was not meant to be a parent." This level of 'crappy day' hit me broadside.
Nobody ever told me that there would be days I would doubt whether or not I should even have had my kids.
I wonder about my ability to parent my kids all the time. I feel like I fail my kids constantly. For everything I do that I feel like I've succeeded, I feel like I've let them down 50 more times. 'Oh, you made them pb&j for lunch? Why didn't you cut up apples and grapes to go with it? Or fix them ants-on-a-log? You put out paper and crayons for them to play with and turned the TV off? Why didn't you send them outside to play in the fresh air instead? Or make them homemade play-dough? You're on the computer blogging? Why aren't you playing candyland with your kids? Or cleaning your house so they have a better environment to grow up in?' This is the soundtrack in my brain, and it's not pretty. So when they misbehave, while I recognize it's their behavior that's wrong, it's also my fault for not teaching them correct behavior. Especially with my oldest child who knows better. And he's been giving me a fit lately...he KNOWS better, and yet he continues to do these things. No form of discipline is entirely correct, there are detractors and supporters for every type of discipline out there. Different kinds work for different children. And you just don't know what works for your child until you try it. Unfortunately, that means you're inconsistent until you find what works with YOUR child. In the meantime, you feel like an utter failure and your kid acts like a turd.*
I can't offer any resolution or advice here. To be honest, the day from hell I'm talking about was yesterday, I was sitting in the floor crying 14 hours ago, and I'm still in the bad-day hangover as I write this. I went to bed crying last night and woke up this morning ready to cry. Although today has been a good day so far, I'm still halfway ready to throw in the towel, knowing it's impossible to even think about. This post isn't about finding resolution. It's not even about offering advice. My one and only aim here in exposing my heart so openly is this: I felt utterly alone last night. I feel pretty sure that I'm not the only person who has felt this way, about my children and about feeling alone in my feelings. I wanted other parents who have felt this way to know that they are NOT alone, they are NOT bad parents and that it is OK to feel this way. The bad days happen, and we just have to remind ourselves that good days and fair days far outnumber the bad. Believe me, I've been repeating that to myself today like a mantra....the good outnumber the bad. The good outnumber the bad. The good outnumber the bad...the good outnumber the bad....
Stay warm in this cold snap...and hug your babies. <3
*by "you" in this instance, I mean "me."