I often joke that becoming a mother turned me into a woman. That is if your definition of “woman” means someone who is emotional. Obviously, women and men can each have a varying degree of sensitivity, but I digress. Point is, before my first pregnancy, I was much more likely to mock the cheesiness of laundry detergent commercial than sob through it, and now, anything with a touch of sentimentality is enough to unleash the salty floodgates.
Blame the hormones. Blame the sleepless nights. Blame it on the rain. Whatever the reason, motherhood has me feeling all of the feels. One minute, I am elated by the sheer brilliance of my 3.5 year-old, the next I am frustrated by my one-year-old’s refusal to stay off of the furniture. This is the reality of parenthood I am sure you know well.
I have accepted these feelings as my reality. My days are a complicated blend of emotions, which shape my being. Happiness, sadness, anger, they are all part of what makes me a mother. But, there is one feeling, which crushes me every time it creeps into my soul:
Resentment is never something you want to feel toward your kids, but you would be hard pressed to find a parent who hasn’t experienced this emotion. We resent our kids for what they do to our bodies. We resent them for the loss of our free time. We resent them for the strain they put on our marriage. We resent them for the missed nights out. We resent them for not being what we expected. We resent them for revealing our shortcomings as parents.
I am sure some folks will read this and think, “How could anyone feel that way? Kids are a blessing!” They are right, kids are a blessing, as are good careers, family, pets, etc. That doesn’t mean you are happy with them all the time. Life would be boring, if that were the case. And, if you never felt anything negative toward your own kids, please, share your secret!
For the rest of us, the emotion which creeps behind resentment is guilt. We feel guilty for the bitterness we feel toward human beings who have little to no control over their actions. We know the newborn does not purposefully sabotage our sleep schedule, but we still resent him for our zombie-like state, and feel awful for even thinking that way.
I know the days when I am feeling my least is often when my kids need me the most. Those hard nights of waking up every hour to tend to a child who is petrified in his sleep, or those days spent chasing a toddler who has no interest in your arbitrary boundaries, are the ones which leave me resentful and wondering what’s the point.
And then, I remember.
I am raising the next generation. I am shaping the future. I am building young men.
This is a gargantuan task, which I have humbly accepted.
So, yeah, I think it’s okay to feel resentment, sometimes. I am happy there are bigger, more beautiful feelings to squash it.
There’s the joy of my infant’s laughter and delight over his new found ability to walk. There’s the astonishment of my preschooler’s mastery of all things train. There’s the pride of sharing these moments with family and friends. There’s the love and gratitude for all of my good fortune.