Thursday, May 17, 2012
Before children I never got mad at myself for having a bad day, much less a cranky hour. It happens, we are brilliantly imperfect.
Now, as a parent, I hold myself to unrealistic expectations. I feel horrible if I lose patience, am not 100% attentive to someone else's needs, or just plain don't wanna. Guilt is a powerful and useless tool.
It seems we are much less forgiving of ourselves for being human than we are our children.
Case in point: Yesterday Abby and I had a fabulous time at one of her friend's homes. She and her darling friend seem to enjoy each others company and nobody hissed, got hurt feelings, or cried. Kind of unheard of for a first date, really.
Then we get in the car and she morphs into a different beast: whining, complaining, crying, and attempting to channel her inner flying dinosaur again.
I cut her slack because obviously she was spent. Being socially acceptable is tiring for her age group. It's exhausting for my age group too.
Then, why do I hate myself after doing much of the same when I am tired too? Shouldn't we, as simply grown up children, allow ourselves to whine, complain, cry and shriek into a pillow every once in a while?
Sure, if you want people to stage a private intervention for you.
Adults are supposed to have mastered the art of working through frustrations, disappointments, life-sucking fatigue but have we? Aren't most of us putting on a good show and then complaining to our spouses, working super long hours, eating a tub of cookies (possibly me, yesterday), or drinking too many energy drinks to compensate or cover up?
Truth is, it's hard to be balanced every hour of every day.
(If it were easy, there'd be no such thing as Bikram yoga.)
I don't know one single solitary person who doesn't experience a full range of emotions in the course of a week, sometimes a day. True that some of us hide it better than others but I've read enough parenting blogs to learn we are not all that much different from our children counterparts. We just listen to NPR, use longer sentences, and scour status updates for another soul having a horrible day too.
So let's cut ourselves some slack when we are miserable on the outside, possibly matching our insides for a few minutes. As long as nobody gets hurt or yelled at I don't see a problem with pushing away the parenting guilt that only serves to make us feel worse about a job that is intrinsically well-rounded itself. Parenting can be demanding, beautiful, hilarious, horrible, stifling, comforting, cruel, and impossible all in the course of a day.
I'm afraid I am no different.