I would just like to announce that I have officially lost control of my children.
I thought I lost control when child 3 entered the world, but I hadn’t.
I lost it Sunday. Or at least I realized it Sunday. It was confirmed today.
You see, child 3 has grown old enough to follow the directions of her older siblings, which brings the number of insane noise-makers with remarkably poor judgment to THREE.
You know how many there are of me? ONE.
So we’re driving home on Sunday in our big-ass SUV and all three kids are lined up in one seat (long story), and they start having “fun.” You know, “fun,” as in the silly crap kids do that I’m supposed to think is “cute” but really I just find annoying, which simultaneously makes me feel guilty and inadequate, because as a mother I’m supposed to bask in the antics of my little ones, RIGHT? So I’m irritated, guilt-ridden and questioning my capacity for mothering while wanting to stab myself in the face. Just another day in paradise.
More on that later.
So anyway they get bored and start making Georgia repeat some line from horrible show like 27,000 times, and they’re squealing and laughing and making noises that remind me of what I imagine a donkey on meth might sound like. It’s as if the noises are actually SCRATCHING MY BRAIN OUT. Like I can see it in shreds at my feet. A big pile of it.
Ok that was graphic, but you feel me, right?
I gently ask them to settle down. IGNORED.
I sternly ask them to settle down. They’re quiet for approximately 47 seconds.
They giggle and start up again.
I look over at Mac (I’m driving, of course. I’m always driving. It’s not my fault the man can’t drive properly.), and you know what he’s doing? SMILING.
I swear to you he’s giggling. AS IF IT’S CUTE.
His eyes mock my agony: “Aren’t they sweet?” they seem to say, “Aren’t you glad we have kids?”
No joke, this strange species of human thinks this crap is charming. I want to kill myself and he’s looking at me like “Let’s have another, please?”
And that, people, is why my kids will always, ALWAYS like their dad more than they like me. On the plus side, I figure he’ll balance out my generally poor attitude and short temper. I mean one patient parent is enough, right? You know, to raise well-adjusted children? Let’s talk about something else.
So clearly he’s no help. I’m in this alone.
I plug in my phone and turn up Macklemore really, really loud, hoping to drown out the sound of their death screams. I meant “playful songs.”
Doesn’t work. Just gets them louder.
I tell myself I’m a rock in a stream.
I follow my breath like Thich Nhat Hanh says I should.
I remind myself it’s just 20 more minutes to the house.
Then I yell. Loud.
“BE QUIET! I can’t take this anymore!! NO MORE TALKING! NOT ANOTHER SOUND! The next kid to scream is doing an hour of chores when we get home!”
That shit used to work. You know what happened this time? They made church straight-faces for about 12 seconds then burst into laughter when Georgia announced “I pedo” (I fart).
And that’s when I knew: I’ve yelled so much they don’t even hear me anymore. Well shit, that’s rad. My kids have become immune to me. Parenting WIN!
I recalled reading somewhere once that if you yell at your kids too much eventually they stop acknowledging your yells. Apparently that’s true. Who knew? Guess I’ll have to start some more advanced parenting approaches, maybe like, um, well fuck. I don’t actually know any advanced parenting approaches.
Please don’t share any with me. I have a mental block against improving as a parent. Actually I just hate helpful parenting advice. We’ve been over that. I much rather prefer blowing it enough times I give up and try something new.
Don’t ever say I don’t have a system.
So I resign myself to the chaos. I give the whole situation a mental “fuck it” and turn on Kingsley Flood (my most recent band obsession) as loud as I want, and start singing.
Eventually I forget the demon spawn. Sort of.
As we drive along my mind drifts to the words I’ve heard so many times: “Why do you have children if you’re just going to complain about them?” Having just done a large amount of mental complaining about my children, the sentiment was particularly poignant.
You chose to have kids. Deal with it.
As if deciding to do something in life negates the possibility that that thing might get hard at some point, and you’ll want to express that. As if pursuing a path results in nothing but infinite joy as you follow it through the years.
You made this bed, sleep in it. Don’t expect us to listen to you whine.
And I wonder if this sentiment is equally distributed among all professions, or if there is a special expectation reserved for mothers, a special spot carved out just for us: Because we’re “mothers,” we’re “nurturers,” right?
And nurturers don’t want to launch themselves out of a moving Expedition on account of the horrible noises being emitted by their offspring.
They love that shit. They match chaos with fortitude, serenity, perspective.
They had these kids because they just love it. All of it: the noise chaos squeals cackling kicking crying and bickering. Obviously.
[Or, they marry a dude who loves it hoping he’ll make up for their deficiencies. I jest. I had no idea he was like that. ]
Well, check this out, my friends. I’m going to say this loud and clear: I don’t love it all. I particularly don’t love feeling like I’ve lost control of my kids. Some people are going to read this and say “Well, if she were a better mother she wouldn’t be having these problems.”
AND I’M SURE THAT’S TRUE.
But the fact is I’m not a better mother. I’m this mother and my kids irritate the hell out of me sometimes and I don’t handle it well. I’m this mother and I don’t love every second of child-rearing and this is my job and sometimes it FEELS LIKE A JOB just like any other job a human might have, and if the world thinks I need to shut my mouth and suck it up like some grateful puppy begging at the door of my master, well the world can bite me.
Mothers are doing some seriously hard work, as hard as any work being done anywhere. And we won’t hide our sweat or shut the hell up because society thinks we should bow our heads in gratefulness at the profound opportunity to be mothers.
We are grateful, and it is profound. OTHERWISE WE WOULDN’T BE DOING IT – day in and day out. It’s not that we’re doing more or less than anybody else in the world. We are just doing a very particular kind of work, sometimes thankless work, and for some reason we face an expectation that we do it gracefully, gratefully, smiling, full of laughter and sunshine, all the time. Because it’s beautiful, pastel motherhood!
Frankly, it’s fucking ridiculous.
Motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and it’s raw and messy and real. And yet, I’m doing it. I’m always already doing it. Against my better judgment, I keep on keepin’ on.
As do you.
But we don’t have to do this alone, and we sure as hell don’t need to do it quietly.
Forgive us if our voices grate on your ears, upset your groove, irritate the living hell out of you.
We know how that feels.
We deal with it every day.