I hereby declare we get to bitch about motherhood because sometimes it’s bullshit

by renegademama

The other day I told Mac, “I don’t really enjoy hanging out with our family anymore.”

It wasn’t one of those moments of exhausted self-pity or fiery rage when we say shit we don’t mean (or maybe only I do that?), and it wasn’t a well thought-out expression of a deeply shameful secret. It was simply the verbalization of a feeling, and when I said it out loud, it simply felt true.

I wonder if it’s grief. Maybe I’m still jacked up about the murder of my grandmother last November. That was a ridiculous thing to say. Of course I am.

Maybe it’s because time is forcing me back around to the moment my cousin took her life: November 9, 2016 at 7:30pm in Livermore, California.

Or maybe I haven’t actually moved on at all. Maybe I’m still stuck in the moment when I found out, as if time halted and now I just travel in circles around a tiny, horrifying instant.

I don’t think that’s it.

I think it’s that my family has changed, a lot, and I’m having a hell of a time getting adjusted to it. I have a full-blown teenager now. She’ll be 16 next month. She’s a spectacular kid, better than I ever could have imagined, especially considering how her mother behaved at 16, but she’s a teenager, and the world pisses her off, a lot, and sometimes her moods almost perfectly mirror the toddler’s.

Speaking of which, every morning I wonder which Arlo will walk out of the bedroom: Satan Arlo or So-Lovely-I-Could-Spit Arlo. If it’s the latter, he’ll walk up to me and say, “Will you hold me for just a minute?” And I’ll pick him up in his motorcycle pajamas and pat his fuzzy blonde head and stick my nose in the fold of his neck to catch a whiff of sweet sweaty toddler.

If it’s the former, he’ll sit on the kitchen floor screaming and kicking the refrigerator because I won’t let him eat an ice cream sandwich for breakfast.

Rocket is twelve now. And he’s getting damn close to the same teenage angst his sister is experiencing, but he’s still pretty mellow, comparatively.

George is in the childhood sweet spot. Seven years old. Adorable, young, and still chill. But the oldest and youngest kids often demand so much of my attention, I can’t even hang out with her and Rocket like I hung out with the other kids when they were their ages, and I feel a little robbed, and resentful. And I think about middle child syndrome how I am surely, right now, causing it with my glaring deficiencies.

When we go somewhere as a family the bickering starts almost immediately – who sits in the bucket seat of the van (I hate my life), or who gets the last piece of sourdough, or one kid tells another kid to stop humming or whistling or singing or breathing and the other kid yells back until we’re on minute 20 of bickering or yelling and then I’m yelling and it all goes to shit.

Somebody is always in a bad mood.

Somebody is always throwing a tantrum, so rather than enjoy the kids, I’m dealing with a pissed off teenager or pissed off toddler or pissed off me.

It feels lately like it’s more trouble than it’s worth.

 

As soon as I admit that, I feel shitty for admitting that. I remind myself how lucky I am to have this family, these children. This home. I tell myself to be grateful, goddamnit, some people have lost everything.

And intellectually, I know this to be true. Right now, as I type these words, I feel like an entitled piece of shit complaining about a beautiful life. These aren’t even real problems.

And I know they’ll pass. I know whatever is happening here, whether it’s in me or them or both or the stars, will fade into a something new, maybe something I have never known before.

But then again, I think mothers need a chance to say “sometimes motherhood sucks,” and sometimes we need to be able to say it without anybody telling us “Cheer up, Charlie,” or looking at us as if we’re bacterial bottom-dwellers.

Sometimes parenthood is boring and monotonous and simply sucks donkey balls, and sometimes I’m tired in my motherfucking bones. Like a tired that is more than lack of sleep, like a tired that feels like it’s in the air and has moved into my blood, an existential tired. A tired of the cosmos.

Oh, the drama.

It’s an exhaustion that makes me feel like I can’t engage at all. I can’t even rally the resources I almost always have – to parent.

 

And yet, here we are anyway. Crazy fucking mothers. We keep showing up, every damn day. We keep trying to talk to our kids, to guide and support them, to advocate and fight on their behalf, to lift them up when they’re all fucked up.

And we do this even when WE are fucked up.

And that’s why we get to say it, you know? Because if our frustration or boredom or exhaustion led our feet out the front door to never return, well, then, that’s something. But that’s not what we do.

We show up half-broken and half-asleep with a headache.

We show up when every inch of ourselves craves bed.

We show up when the irritation and annoyance with the bickering is like metal stakes in our foreheads, over and over again.

We just keep showing up.

 

It’s not about martyrdom. It’s not about, “Aren’t I so sacred in my annihilation of self?”

It’s about “I love these humans and I am their mother and this is what I do and also they are not ALL of me and never will be and sometimes the entire thing is bullshit.”

Sometimes I just cannot get into motherhood and yet I can’t talk about how I’m not into motherhood because I’m supposed to be so fucking grateful all the time.

Well, you know what, I’m grateful AND I’m over it.

See you at the pick-up line.

Therefore, I hereby declare: Mothers are allowed to bitch about motherhood without anybody telling us “Well, you chose this.”

People choose to be doctors and lawyers and firefighters and they come home and bitch about that, don’t they? How is it weird to have moments when you are TOTALLY OVER YOUR JOB?

We all get to not love what we’re doing sometimes, and we can let the sanctimony surrounding this particular job (of motherhood – fuck the patriarchy forever) vanish like last night’s sleep.

We are real people with real needs and desires doing real work, and as such, we get to yell “fuck it all” into the cosmos on occasion, and realize that in showing up, and doing our best with what we’ve got – even if it’s small and half-assed or a bit sketchy – we’re there, every day, indicating how “grateful” we are for the life surrounding us.

The life we built.

And thank god for made-up pumpkin patch challenges, which I do every year (we go to like 8 or 9 in a month) and which this year involved so many arguments I can’t even begin to count them.

Pretty sure Mac at one point stated, “Pumpkins are ruining my fucking life, Janelle.”

But we showed up anyway, and at the last pumpkin patch yesterday, the teenager said, “Mama, you have to take a picture of us jumping off the haystack like we do every year.”

So I did.

And remembered.

***

Want to write with me in January?

I started writing this blog in January 2011, and over the years, I’ve learned how to say the things I think even if they’re a bit unpopular, and may or may not result in people telling me I’m fat, should have my kids removed, or diagnosing me with some preventable illness.

Let’s just say I get unfriended a lot.

But also, I have been overwhelmed with the reverse: People saying, “Hey, thanks for saying it. I needed to hear it.”

That’s how writing works, I think. We say some truth to connect to our people, and in doing so, we lose some people and piss some people off, but at the last, we find those who need to hear our words.

I don’t have a monopoly on this process, and people are waiting for what you’ve got to say. I made a workshop to work toward getting you there. I don’t sell any fucking silver bullets, but I can tell you what I do to silence the assholes in my head and ignore the ones in the interwebs, to just Write Anyway.

Join me in January.

I found this a year after I named my workshop “write anyway,” which basically means Junot Diaz is my best friend and he loves me.

more stuff I shouldn't have said out loud:

27 Comments | Posted in bitching about the kids I chose to have. | October 31, 2017
  • Kerry Fitzsimons

    Wow this post made me cry … like really cry, while I sit at my desk at work. This is totally how I have been feeling lately and feeling guilty about feeling it.
    Thank you for putting it in to words that I can share with others.

    • Me

      I ditto that completely. Thank YOU. Just Thank You for putting words out there where we can share with you because I’m certainly not a blogger or even a writer but it’s how I feel almost every day/. I have 3 beautiful children of which I’m so proud to be a mother to but most of the time I only feel this way when I”m away from their presents. The fighting, the noise , the Constant is So exhausting! And my other half- just makes it worse! Separated but still living together now for going on 4 years is dreadful. UGH what else can I say… I ‘ve started taking meditation classes and yoga a few times a week and the quilt pours off of me… But I do know that even though I’m called selfish it’s what I Have To DO for My SELF. Thank YOU for sharing!!

  • Lisa

    I get it.

    Yesterday I came home from work with a skull-splitting, blinding migraine. After double kid pick up and making KD for dinner then crashing into bed for the entire evening, I wake up to remember it’s Halloween! Fun! So, I have my own work costume to figure out (why I have to still do this as an adult is beyond me – “corporate culture!” “fun leadership!”), plus kids costumes, regular clothes to change into, snacks to contribute to the school parties etc. on top of regular lunches and school/daycare drop-offs. And I have a 9am meeting.

    I manage to get Batman into the car and Cat/Vampire’s makeup to the exact specifications, load us up, and off we go. Half way to daycare, stuck in traffic, Batman asks to listen to Raffi. Yes, this is exactly what I’d like to listen to at 7:45am. Unfortunately for Batman, we can’t listen to Raffi because my phone, wallet and lunch are at home, in my purse, on my driveway.

    We inch our way to the nearest exit, loop back, and now we’re 30 mins behind.

    I no longer have time to park and bus to work (my normal cheap-ass way of getting into the downtown core, where my office is conveniently located in the highest parking cost zone in the country). So, I race down in the car. I miss the earlybird pricing by 2 minutes. Great. I love donating my first hour of work to the parking companies.

    I arrive 10 mins late to my meeting in my half-assed costume. My childless colleagues look at me, drinking custom lattes and organic kale smoothies bought during their leisurely strolls to work, wearing oscar-worthy costumes they’ve clearly planned for a month.

    I love my family. I even love my job (truly, it’s a pretty awesome job). Daycare sent me a photo of Batman that melted my heart. I’m grateful every day. But fuck.

    • Courtney

      “But fuck.” Your comment was awesome (“corporate culture,” “fun leadership” 😂)…and the parting shot was exactly it! Thanks for making this tired ass mom, in her half ass costume, smile!

  • Suzanne

    Yep yep yep, thank you for articulating so well what I truly believe almost every mother has felt….. if we are honest. Keep putting it out there for those of us who have difficulty verbalizing those feelings but truly appreciate knowing we aren’t the only ones that feel that way.

  • Anne

    Right there with you.

  • Rachel Romano

    Just this weekend I was crying and telling my husband that I am not cut out for this (motherhood, wife hood, stay at home mom hood, what have you) and he was telling me that I would feel the same way at times if I had become a lawyer like I wanted to and lived in a nice apartment all by myself…and I couldn’t believe him. But I love my kids and will just keep going. I love your writing, and if I can ever get my shit together I will sign up for your class. Thank you. And you’re not fat.

  • Tanya Dehmer

    YES YES YES!!! Sometimes I think, “what the hell was I thinking!? Why did I choose this? Ugh. Coulda been living in Scotland riding horses and writing smut novels. Oh well.” No going back now, those little bastards stole my everything. They own me, heart and soul. I love them, and most of the time, I love loving them. Most of the time. Motherhood is a wild ride.

    Love your blog❤️

  • Barb

    Yep, you’re bang on sister!

  • Marselle

    Woman! You write so well. It’s like you read my mind. I love you for being so real, so truthful, it’s so good that it hurts. THANK YOU for making us out here feel normal and great. Lots of love to you x

  • kristine obrien

    I am a pastor and when I complain people TOTALLY say, “You chose this,” in that snarky tone judgemental people use. And you could take everything you said about motherhood (which, for the record, I could have said myself at any point with my four kids) and apply it to my job–the one where I am always supposed to be serene and kind no matter how much people suck and where I don’t get paid nearly enough to put up with the things I have to put up with. So that’s how I know your opinion is legit: Yes we get to complain and for sure it will pass. Bring on the whine.

  • Karen Robinson

    So fucking true. You nail it EVERY. TIME. Thanks for being REAL.

  • Lara

  • MaryBeth

    Exactly what I needed to read after days spent home with two sick, mouth-breathing, crabby little angels that I may or may not have wanted to throttle several dozen times within those days.

  • June

    Nothing like a good cry in the morning when you’re reminded you’re not the only one. I dropped my 14 year-old off at the bus this morning so pissed off at him I was seeing red and dreaming of cussing him out.

  • Sierra

    This. So much this.

    Between a toddler, a husband, and coworkers/guests that act like toddlers, I’m wiping asses 24/7. I thought it was just my Zoloft not working. Thanks for showing me I’m not alone.

  • jacinta

    Thank-you.

  • JEN

    Yes. All of this. I have a 7yo and 5yo twins. They will bicker about the color of the fucking sky. After a long day at work, it’s just such a JOY to pick up 3 whiny kids who immediately start complaining about dinner AND fighting with each other and maybe me….because everything I say is stupid and wrong. I sooooo get it. But you say it much better!

    • Amy

      Aaugh, me too! I have to pick up 3 bickering boys after a long day at work—and go home to the 4th bickering boy—and then get to hear about how they do not like what I threw together for dinner and I’m a terrible mom because I didn’t let them do this or that, and how come we can’t build a roller coaster in the living room right now?

  • Margaret Sky

    This is precisely the conversation some friends and I were having yesterday…”Can I just not “mom” for a minute?” I only have one, and she’s a toddler, but when the whining becomes too much, it is TOO MUCH.

    And yes, I feel this way about my outside-the-home job as a therapist at times too.

  • Erin D

    Today, I put my eight year old on medication for his ADHD and I feel like a fucking failure. And I’m so exhausted in my “motherfucking bones”. But then I read this and I (also) cried at my desk and it made me feel a bit better. Being a mother; I’m kind of over it today. Feel free to judge!

  • Whitney

    Thank you for writing this. You always seem to say exactly what I’ve been feeling. Sorry about your cousin and grandma. Tough month.

  • Lindsay

    My favorite is bedtime! Bedtime=good times! I kid.
    The other night I sat with my daughter to read, opened the book, but couldn’t physically utter any words. It actually felt painful to speak! Fuck beftime stories! I slammed the book shut, and said “no story tonight!”

  • Sherry

    I’m old now but I was a single mother, two sons, pressure job, and exhausted. I asked my kids one day if they really, really knew that I loved them. They both looked puzzled and my oldest said , “yeah, we never doubted that” . I figured no matter how I screwed up, I’d succeeded because there are people who go their whole lives thinking their parents didn’t love them.

    Now they’re grown with kids of their own to stress them out, and I am told I was the greatest mom ever….not true but it sounds good. What else can they say, after all they knew they were loved even when I was screeching my lungs out in frustration.

  • Heather

    Yep. The other day, I decided to take the day off of work and stay home with the kids. Mostly, it wasn’t a choice but a requirement because our childcare fell through, but I was excited to have an extra day at home with the kiddos. As we sat down at the breakfast table to bowls of cereal -typically a requested option- the whining began. It continued when the preschooler didn’t want to use the bathroom on his own for fear of monsters (WTF? When did this irrationality begin?). Then we had to argue about getting dressed. Of course, the two year old thought it was ridiculous that I wanted to change her poopy diaper, and thus began a screaming, kicking fit. I parked them in front of the tv for 30 minutes to get the dishes done (good mommy), but then the oldest had a meltdown when the TV went off. And on and on and on. I wanted to go to work. I might’ve said that out loud. Some days, it’s not even remotely close to fun or rewarding or beautiful. Some days, it’s just shit. And you can’t leave. You can’t take a coffee break to compose yourself. You can’t even really hide in the bathroom successfully. Your shit day won’t end at 5pm; likely, it will get worse. So yeah, why are we not allowed to say all of this? Why do we act like its some shameful sin to be honest and real, like it means we are undeserving of children? It is hands down the hardest job there is…it only makes sense that we need to vent about our bad days. Thanks for the real, Janelle, as always.

  • Meg

    Ugh, I feel you. And the hard part about motherhood as a job is that even if it’s your dream job, it’s really hard to get some time off, and people judge you like a motherfucker if you want to quit. Or even if you want to take the day off. SOMETIMES I CAN HAVE MY DREAM JOB AND ALSO HAVE A REAL SHITTY DAY BECAUSE MY BOSSES ARE A COUPLE OF RAGING ASSHOLES, OKAY?

  • Maxine

    I lost a friend recently because she said I “complained” too much about being a parent and the struggles that it involves. As far as she was concerned – I should be grateful.

    I felt guilty for months and decided to remain silent about my true thoughts on my mommy blog or while chatting to friends and family about the trials & tribulations of parenting.

    THIS POST changed that… thank you – I needed this!

    I love my husband and 2 year old daughter, I mostly like my full time job – but sometimes I want to run away and travel the world in style. Use the funds of childcare & running a home for first class travel.

    Then I remember how lonely I was being an only child in a single parent household and how grateful I am to have a wonderful husband and beautiful healthy daughter. Until she throws a tantrum because the food that she loved yesterday is now something that she refuses to eat, and trying to change her nappy has become an octopus wrestling competition and her need to strip off the clothes that I have just dressed her in has become the favourite game.
    #FML