Just this morning, I read this article.
Funnily enough, I'd been working on a blog post on this very subject for a few weeks. I'd been going back and forth in my head for over a month, feeling guilty for feeling this way when there are millions of women in the country who would gladly give their right hand to be stuck in a public place with a kid having a major meltdown. It would mean they were mothers. Friends of mine have been to some very dark places just trying to conceive, and whenever I'd complain or gripe about a rough morning or two hour bedtime, I'd feel guilty. In their silence, I could hear their responses: "At least you have someone to dress in the morning. At least you're a mother. Why aren't you more grateful? Why do selfish people like you get to have babies, and I can't?"
Over the Christmas holiday, I got to see one of my best friends from high school. I hadn't seen Kate in over a year--I was pregnant the last time we got together. I was so barely pregnant, I don't know if we knew that Hannah was Hannah.
Kate is one of those women who, even as a teenager, we knew was destined for awesomeness. She's brilliant. She's one of the smartest, most intelligent, and well-spoken people I've ever had the pleasure to know. She's incredibly perceptive and kind, and when she asks about you, you know she means it. She stopped by for a visit with her niece, and the first question Kate asks? "How's parenthood?"
My response? "It's hard!"
That's not to say it isn't wonderful and rewarding, but damn if it's not hard. Some days, it's easier than others. Hannah's in a good mood, and she wants to play and snuggle and laugh all day.
Other days, I want to climb in bed. I want to tell her, "Okay, you don't want a nap? I do! Go watch your stories and wake me in an hour. Trust me kid, one day you'll need a nap and you can't take one."
On days when her teeth are killing her. (She's 13 months and has 12 teeth. Someone kill me.)
On days when she's extra clingy. (I don't always mind, but sometimes, I need to pee and would like to do so in relative privacy.)
On days when I'm home alone and she's tearing the house to pieces.
On days when she doesn't feel like getting into the car, and I have to wrastle her like a hillbilly, and I'm pretty sure my neighbors think I'm beating her with the seat belt.
On days when we're at the grocery store, and she's done. When she doesn't cry, but screams and begs to be held, then let down, then picked up again, then put down, and then OH MY GOD WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU WHY WOULD YOU PUT ME DOWN I THINK YOU HAAAAAAAATE ME!
In those moments, I think back and remember the moments when I had dignity. When I could walk in and out of a store in 10 minutes with my head held high and no emergency cookies or pacifiers in my pockets.
I love my daughter. She is, without question, a walking, breathing miracle. Sometimes, though, it's so hard to "seize the moment" and "treasure every last minute" because she's a person with thoughts and feelings and ideas that don't always jive with mine. I want her to wear her mittens, and she wants to run around naked. When I have to wrestle her and shove the mittens on her hands because it's 11 F. outside and sending her outside without proper gear on is child abuse, I'm not "seizing the moment" because I'm busy seizing the child. When her diaper is awful and gross? SO not seizing the moment. When I was nursing and she bit my nipple? Not a moment I cared to seize.
I'm okay with that.
I think parenting is a little like childbirth. It's awesome and terrifying all at once. It's going to hurt. You are going to have parts of you ripped open. You think, "I can DO this! I am a champion!" and inevitably, at some point, you end up begging for drugs because you're losing your mind.
But it's also awesome. You look at yourself, completely amazing by what the human body is capable of doing. Not only can I grow some elbows and push a person out a small space, but I can also simultaneously drive a car and pass a cookie back to a screaming toddler. I can hear my child cry and know exactly what's bothering her. I can walk into a room and instantly scan it for potential choking and stabbing hazards. (Suck it, RoboCop!)
And, much like childbirth, I think we forget the pain. The memory fades after a while, and we think we can do it because the payoff is pretty freaking awesome. Baby smiles and snuggles. Watching your child learn to walk. Watching the act of learning take place as they figure out their shape sorter. Hearing them say a new word for the first time. Asking for kisses and getting a sloppy, open-mouthed kiss in return. Getting snuggles and contented sighs at bedtime. Coming home from work and getting a big smile and squeal, just because you exist and you are, in that moment, the most important person in the world.
Those are the moments I hold on to. Those are the moments that will make me clutch my heart at 90 (hopefully not a heart attack). And those are the moments I try to remember when my toddler strips me of all my dignity while we're at Target and she's done for the day. Those are the moments when, at the end of the day, I can say, "Today sucked. But, it's over, and for the most part, this parenting thing is pretty bitchin'."