Parenting is Hard: A Confession & A Cure For The Common Facebook Envy
This is the third time I’m writing this post.
Originally, it was about food. Pasta. “Four New Things I Made With Pasta.” Healthy things. Easy things. Things that everyone in my family ate.
I was going to write about it despite the fact that my food posts are my least popular, according to Google Analytics and feedback on Facebook. Despite the fact that I never remember to take pictures and the ones I do take are always badly lit.
But as I was writing that post, I started listing all the other things I should be writing about. Parenting things. And that became, and still mostly is, the post.
It’s not pretty, it’s not polished and I’m not proud of all the things I’m feeling. But it beat out pasta.
On Saturday afternoon, I put the link to the post on Hot Breakfast’s Facebook page. Pat had gone to Asheville to run a half marathon with his sister. The kids and I were planning to go along, but at the last minute, we decided it would be easier for Pat to just enjoy some time with his sister, run the race, and come home.
It had already been a long week with the kids, and I was taking advantage of Rory’s nap time to get some alone time. I had set Noah up with the iPad, and was lying on my bed scrolling through Facebook.
So, I’m aware of “Facebook envy” – feeling like everyone’s life is better than yours based on their Facebook posts – and while I’m sure I’ve had pangs of it before, I don’t normally consider it a problem. But Saturday afternoon was different. Here were all my friends and their happy, smiling kids enjoying the weekend, while I had just posted a rant about how mine were driving me insane as I hid from them in my bedroom.
I deleted the blog post.
Honestly, I was ashamed of it. Ashamed that I felt this way, like there was something wrong with me. Embarrassed to be complaining. I called my sister.
“Will you read this, tell me if it’s too gloomy?”
She had visited with my two-year-old nephew, Finn, a couple weeks before. The weather was cold and messy, the kids were crabby (and also messy), we went a little stir crazy.
“Did you have so much fun with your sister?” people asked us after the visit.
“Uhhhh, sort of.”
Anyway, I knew she had seen what I was dealing with, and would have an honest perspective.
Share it, she said. So here I am. Blog post, round three.
I need to vent about parenting. It is exhausting me right now: asking “Do you have to go potty?” 100 times a day; daylight savings time making tough bedtimes even tougher, the newly-dawning era of sibling rivalries and resentments.
Noah doesn’t want to go to bed, doesn’t want to get out of bed, doesn’t want to go to school, doesn’t want to eat what you made for dinner, YES HE DOES want to eat what you made for dinner WHY DOES RORY GET TO HAVE SOME BUT HE DOESN’T?
Rory doesn’t want to go to the potty. Ooops, yes, I guess he does. Right in the middle of Trader Joe’s. Rory wants Noah to pay attention to him. He wants to play Legos with the big boys. He wants THE BLUE CUP NOT THE GREEN ONE, THAT CEREAL, NO COAT!
I need to vent about how, at 9:30 PM, when all I want to do is drink a beer and admire Claire Underwood’s wardrobe and obsess over HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT SHE DIDN’T TAKE THOSE STILETTOS OFF THE WHOLE TIME SHE WAS IN RUSSIA, but Rory is still screaming “MAMA!” over the monitor like he’s being murdered, and when I go in there it’s some ploy about how he needs a new pajama shirt or diaper change or his stuffed animal covered. And Noah is thump, thump, thumping down the stairs to complain that he can’t get comfortable, his elbow hurts, his head itches, he never gets enough time to play, and why does he never get a sleepover, and can we look up the price of that other Lego helicopter?
I need to vent, because this is the stuff that’s been engulfing my life. Robbing me of my sanity. Making me question how I didn’t know ahead of time how atrociously challenging this could be, how I somehow assumed that once we were past the baby stage, the terrible twos, preschool – things would be easier. Causing me to wonder if I’m really cut out for this parenthood thing after all, if maybe I’m too selfish, too lazy, too impatient.
My God, you guys. This thing is hard. And it’s hard right now under pretty ideal circumstances: an involved and understanding husband, no demands of a job outside the house, friends and family and neighbors who are willing to help.
But even still, I’m tired and frustrated and, a lot of the time, bewildered. And it’s confusing. I spend so much time dreaming of being done with this stage – wanting them to use the bathroom without help and go to bed on their own and not spill milk three times a day and stop arguing over every inane thing (Noah and Rory spent an entire car ride home debating whether “Stinky and Dirty” was a book or a movie. I don’t think they ever reached a resolution.).
And then there’s part of me that can’t believe how quickly the time is slipping away. Rory’s squishy thighs are getting leaner, his silly sentences clearer. Soon, we’ll be done with diapers and cribs. At school events, Noah runs ahead with his friends, all lanky limbs and holes in the knees of his jeans and dirt under his nails. He thinks words like “fart” are hilarious and makes up goofy songs. I love watching him and Rory pretend to be superheroes and play badminton rackets like guitars and dance in the kitchen to “Rockin’ Robin” and “Shake it Off.”
Yes, we have those moments. Happy moments and sweet moments and profound moments. But the irony of the Facebook envy/guilt that I experienced on Saturday is that if you assessed my life based on my Facebook posts, you’d probably think it was entirely those fun, silly, sweet moments. Sure, my posts are peppered with exasperation, but it’s usually the sitcom kind, where a kid does something “naughty” and the mom does a face-palm and the studio audience laughs.
But in reality, lately those happy moments seem so brief, so quick to be buried by the mayhem lurking all around them: Rory screaming that he didn’t get the right racket, Noah complaining that I liked Rory’s dancing better than his. The toy needs more batteries, Rory shredded his shirt with safety scissors, we need another snack. Bedtime has become one long battle that starts with high hopes and ends with pretty much everyone in tears. I don’t like my kids in those moments. And I really don’t like myself in those moments.
I hate writing a post this gloomy without some sort of insight or resolution. I tried to explain the saying “every gray cloud having a silver lining” to Noah the other day, as we walked home from the bus and he griped about whatever we were doing next. He wasn’t buying it. And if I tried to conjure a cheerful ending to this post, I wouldn’t expect you to buy it, either.
Except for maybe one thing, because this is true: just in telling you all this, I feel better, less alone. And if you’re having one of those weeks, months, or years, but don’t think it’s okay to admit it, maybe you you will feel less alone, too, And I guess that’s the silver lining. And it beats a pasta recipe any day.