In all the parenting books I read to prepare for parenting, there was one thing for certain. I never knew that on a beautiful crisp fall morning, I’d look over at my six year old (who just happens to be the youngest) and think to myself – I love you but you also infuriate me.
I don’t think it’s his fault per se. Yes, he was doing the annoying behavior, and just happened to be dressed in a wildly bright colored outfit including crazy socks for crazy socks day, so that didn’t help his case. But, I think it’s 12 years of parenting under my belt that finally made me think that thought.
I love you but you also infuriate me.
I think that his actions in that moment made me come to the realization that not only is it OK to not like your kids sometimes, but sometimes they can simultaneously infuriate you beyond belief.
It might have been the fact that he was wandering from room to room aimlessly while he was supposed to be getting ready for school. Or it could just be the fact that parenting pushes you to the edge of every single emotion you could possibly feel.
Extreme love beyond belief? Check. Extreme infuriation at a tiny human you created at the exact same moment? Check check.
The intense rainbow of emotions I can feel at any given moment sometimes trick me into thinking that I wasn’t cut out for this and it’s all my fault. I have to literally scream at myself and say to myself – STOP DOING THIS you crazy woman! Your kids are freaking annoying sometimes, Meredith.
But, it gives you pause when in one moment you’re looking at that cute freckle above their nose wondering how you created something so perfect, and in a split second they start doing the river dance in your living room when they are supposed to be practicing piano.
You wonder – oh my gosh how do I love this person so much and also become totally annoyed simultaneously by the way he chews with his mouth open?
And, just a side note – this totally applies to husbands (and wives) as well.
So, for the mamas out there that are lovingly gazing into their child’s eyes while he burps the alphabet and are totally disgusted and feel like they can’t quite pinpoint where they are going wrong – know this:
You can love someone and be totally infuriated in the exact same instant and still be a good mom.
You can love the little one that crawls into your bed at two in the morning and still be totally frustrated and annoyed.
And to be clear, you can be infuriated in lots of instances and still be a good mom. I totally believe there are seasons of parenting to this whole gig. Those early years are like the crux of cuteness and bonding and laughing at their cuteness because it’s beguiling that your whole world is upside down and backwards and new.
But, when you reach the middle stage of parenting, it becomes a little more hazy. You start to have conversations with yourself like – how can this smart, and bright kid make such a huge mistake and how am I supposed to love him through this?
Or you wonder things on a regular basis, how is it possible after everything I’ve taught you that you are still inept? or why do you seem hell bent on torturing your sister? Or sneaking around behind my back? Or finally reaching out to cuddle me at the exact moment I want you to leave me alone?
This middle years of parenting where they aren’t little but they aren’t big are so weird.
I spend a lot of my days right now in the – I love you but you infuriate me – state of being.
Does it make me a bad mom that these kids might annoy me right now more than I ooh and aah over them? Nah. I think that’s just the stage we’re trying to muddle our way through.
This will be the next parenting book I write. How to survive the infuriating aspects of parenting. The pee on the seats, and the toothpaste cap behind the toilet. How to survive the times when your kids decide that their favorite Imagine Dragons song is the one that they need to play at full volume in the next room for 27 days straight, and how to go to your happy place when the six year old decides to learn how to dribble a basketball in your kitchen.
Those aren’t the world’s worst problems that a parent can face in this whole parenting game. But, they are the annoying ones.
The ones we don’t often talk about. The ones that make us feel like a crappy parent if we give voice to – because we are supposed to love our kids all the time and never be *gasp* annoyed by them.
Well, I’m here to tell you that’s crap. Kids are annoying. The little stuff is little stuff, but it can still make you feel like a bad parent when you go to bed at night and realized that you were more annoyed than loving that day.
But, you’re still a good mom (or dad) if your kid loves you and infuriates you at the same time.
I know this because despite being annoyed more often than I’m overwhelmed with their preciousness these days, I still manage to love my kids and do a pretty damn good job being a parent. And, I’m sure you do too.
Meredith Ethington is a writer and a mom to three, trying to help her kids understand sarcasm and her need for personal space. Meredith’s debut parenting book, Mom Life: Perfection Pending, provides an uplifting yet realistic look at all that is expected of moms in the 21st century and is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at Absolute Love Publishing. She proudly writes for many of her favorite parenting sites, including Scary Mommy, Babble, Momtastic, and on her own blog. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where she loves to laugh at herself and admit that while parenting is the best thing ever, it’s also the hardest job on earth.