I believe there is a time in the life of every mother when she low-key can’t stand her kids. Okay okay. That’s not what I meant.
What I meant was: I low-key can’t stand my kids.
Of course I mean “can’t stand my kids” in the motherhood definition, meaning I wake up every day doing my best for them and lay my head down at night wishing it all didn’t go so fucking fast and I’d jump in front of a train for them, defend them with my last breath, and don’t know how I’d continue breathing if they were gone.
You know? That kind of “can’t stand.”
But on a day-to-day, moment-to-moment basis, these humans are really pissing me off.
They’re a giant irritation tornado.
I don’t think mothers are supposed to admit this, but I’m going to admit it, because it’s true and real, and we get to complain about every other goddamn job without hearing WELL YOU SIGNED UP FOR THIS SHIT SUCK IT UP, so here goes: My family is annoying the shit out of me.
I think we’re broken. I think we rounded some bend and it’s all fucked now.
I don’t know if it’s just the ages of everyone or if there’s something wrong with me, but my family is heavy right now.
It seems like there is always somebody fighting, complaining, whining, or sitting around on their cell phones. I ask somebody to do something and the somebody ignores me. Or talks back. Or announces some other kid does fewer chores. There’s suddenly a lot of favoritism. My favorite part of the favoritism claim is how quickly it’s passed from one kid to the next until one kid at every moment is claiming we love some other kid more. And in my head I’m like well right now you may have a point.
George’s mission in life is to torment Arlo, who is four, meaning he unleashes a blood-curdling scream that sends me straight to the roof. He has also taken to growling. That seems healthy. Did I mention he’s four?
Have you ever met a four-year-old? The other day he threw a ten-minute tantrum because he was in pumpkin pajamas – so fucking cute I could puke – and didn’t want to take them off to get dressed because he wanted to be a “scare pumpkin.”
Translation: He wanted to hide in my bed and jump out at me, which he had already done three times and I played along, like a motherfucking saint, but it wasn’t enough. And I was like SON I GAVE YOU THREE MINUTES IN THE MORNING MAYHEM WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT FROM ME.
Of course we were running late because unless I wake up nine hours before we’re supposed to leave, we’re running late.
Rocket torments George. Why? Who the fuck knows why. It’s like he sits around thinking of the most annoying thing he can do to his younger sibling and then he does that.
Ava torments Rocket.
It’s like a goddamn sibling-torment circle.
And when they’re all happy, George is running around the house, Rocket is making some sort of screeching sound, and Arlo is bouncing off the walls in maniacal reaction to the energy of all of them.
And I’m sitting there like this family sucks.
Legit question, and answer carefully, because it ain’t that simple: Are kids more annoying when they’re pissed off or happy?
I think it’s me. I think I’m the asshole here.
And then there’s the tattling coming from the eight-year-old. I love tattling. In other news, she suddenly doesn’t sleep well. George was my super sleeper from on high and now she’ll keep herself awake for a full goddamn hour.
The wall of sound. The squealing. The rolling around on the floor. The mess.
I am just not into it. I am so goddamn tired.
What does that mean, exactly? When we look around at our kids and we’re like “Maybe I don’t like this very much.”
I’m not even sure why I’m writing this. What’s the point? I don’t have anything to offer. I’m sure the comment section will fix me. We all love that.
I guess I’m just saying it out loud because it’s real, and I think we, as mothers particularly, are not allowed to just stand up and say “I fucking hate this right now.” We aren’t allowed to go through really trying phases that maybe we cannot fix, that maybe we have to just get through somehow until it changes.
We decided maybe George needed some activities that were hers. Some special shit. Maybe she wanted some attention. We got her into a hip hop class. She joined Scouts.
My teenager and I spent an hour together the other day during the early part of the school day. After a major blow up, I said fuck it and took her to get coffee with me. That felt good.
I’ve made sure to ask Rocket about his day, and spend time one on one with him, talking. I make sure I read Arlo a few books most nights.
I’m trying to do right by these kids, but holy fuck, guys.
I implemented screen-free evenings. We colored together with fancy pens. We had fun.
Sometimes we try tiny changes and hold on. Sometimes we cling to nothing and hold on. But I wanted you to know it’s like this, because maybe your house is like this too, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with us. I think some phases of family life are just really, really hard.
And we can meet each other there.
What I wrote in this post is largely why I explored the narrative of the “redemptive power of motherhood,” and all that sanctimonious bullshit, in my book.
Because sometimes, this shit just feels like work.
Sacred, important work? Sure, but still, work, with all the bullshit therein.
Oh, hey. Also. Next week, on the 25th, I’m giving a talk in Huntsville, Alabama about motherhood and addiction. JOIN US.