Fact: Parenting is Hard and Life Sucks Sometimes

Posted by on May 25, 2012

Part I

The past few months have been so damned hard. There are days when I don’t know if I’m coming or going. I’m spread too thin. I’m emotionally exhausted. I feel like I have the world on my shoulders sometimes…

Tonight, I got really angry with my daughter. I exploded. I yelled and screamed and said I hated my life…that I would be glad if the world ended on 12-21-2012.

I won’t even expound on how wrong that is. All I can say is this has been building for a while…

So, my husband has been out of town for a week but honestly…I don’t mind single parenting.

I even like it sometimes because there is one less person around to consider or worry about. I make all the decisions and even if there is more responsibility involved, it’s okay. I get my kids to help out more and to do more for themselves, which is never a bad thing.  And really, I run like a well-oiled machine when it’s just the three of us; I’m less lazy because I know there’s nobody else to pick up the slack and I feel good about myself for being able to do it all.

I think I kind of take it as a personal challenge to see how much I can take on; how much I can do and do well, without cracking.

Well, tonight I kind of cracked…not because I had too much to do, per se, but because lately, I feel like my daughter doesn’t seem to care how much she asks of me.

The requests never end…sleepovers, playdates, more computer time, junk food or treats from a drive-thru, extra time at bedtime to read when she’s had all day to read etc. It’s like they’re played on an infinite loop…over and over…day after day after day.

When I say no, she persists until I either give in, which I try not to do, or until I have to get firm with her and then I’m the bad guy. I really resent being put in that position over and over and honestly, I can see how people become the kind of parents who give into their kids all the time. Being the “NO” parent is exhausting. And it’s not that I say no all the time. I say yes plenty but no matter how many times I say yes, there’s always something more in the next minute, hour or day.

I just cannot stand that when I refuse the first time, it doesn’t mean anything; that she doesn’t respect that my answer is my answer and how I feel is how I feel.

And you know, being the “YES” mom is exhausting, too, because it always involves more time, more money, more driving or more work for me.

Sometimes I have a good reason for refusing a request, and sometimes? I JUST DON’T FEEL LIKE DEALING WITH IT…which should be a good enough reason.

I take good care of my kids. They never want for love, care, support or the necessities of life but it’s never enough. There’s always something else.

And I know someone’s knee-jerk response will probably be something along of the lines of “You’re the parent. Don’t be afraid to say no. You have all the power. Don’t let your kids run the show!”

And my response, in anticipation of that kind of commentary is “I KNOW THAT! I already run the show and I’m definitely not afraid to say no”

It’s all the nonsense that comes along with being the boss and running the show and saying no that is wearing on me.

Sometimes I just want to say no and not have to say it ten more times, or explain myself or listen to a bunch of begging or wheedling or negotiating or God forbid, whining. I CANNOT stand whining.

Tonight my daughter put me in a very awkward position with some other parents around and though they were just trying to help, they ended up enabling her when I would have preferred they stay out of it and let me stand by my decision.

I ended up caving on something that I didn’t want to give in on and by the time we got home, I was pretty upset about it. Add to that all the other pressures I’ve been under lately and the fact that because of school/end of year events, my ENTIRE day was devoted to my children from the time I got up until we got home, late, from a school function and an unanticipated trip to the mall. I won’t bore you with the details.

Suffice it to say, by the time we walked in the front door, already 45 minutes past their bedtime with them still needing to be fed DINNER, I was fuming.

I let it all out and ended my diatribe by telling my daughter that I do and have done enough for her and that’s she’s not having the big birthday party this summer that she’s been nagging me about and that she is not allowed to ask me for ANYTHING.

It was ugly.

Then, I accidentally fumbled one of the three little Boboli pizzas I’d made for us and it landed face down on the bottom of the oven. Smoke filled my kitchen and I just wanted to cry.

And cry I did.

And then I said that I hated my life.

And sometimes, I probably really do.

Every day is the same. I work my ass off doing my job. Then I work my ass off for my kids and taking care of family business like grocery shopping, laundry, dinner and a million other things.  Then I try to spend time with my husband, who invariably falls asleep on the couch so I get up and start working again. Then it’s making lunches, laying out clothes for the next day, signing the kids’ planners, loading the dishwasher and getting myself ready for bed so I can do it all over again the next day.

I get tired just thinking about it…

Regardless, I shouldn’t have said that in front of my kids.

I put them to bed shortly after that and said goodnight to my daughter without all the usual niceties. Just ‘goodnight’.

I feel bad about that, too.

I feel bad about the whole thing.

But I can’t deny that I meant all the things I said when I said them; that I’m sick of the infinite loop of requests, that I’m sick of being endlessly nagged about stuff, that she is selfish and doesn’t care about anyone but herself, that I’m exhausted by her.

And for once, something I said must have resonated because she apologized over and over. And I didn’t really respond. I just went about my business of making and ruining a pizza and losing my shit over it.

Because I am an asshole.

Then my husband called and I gave him a brief overview of what was going on and I’m sure he was sorry he called because who wants to hear all that when they’re off having fun in California?

Also? I had the house somewhat orderly and clean up until about 3-4 days ago, when things got really busy and crazy.

Normally, this wouldn’t bother me so much but whenever I go out of town, I come home and the house is really clean and it’s just so nice. But he’s going to come home and probably wish he’d missed his flight.

And I wouldn’t blame him.

But the fact that this is the stuff I’m thinking about is testament to how pathetic my life is.

If my house wasn’t such a cluttery mess to begin with, cleaning it up wouldn’t be such a big deal.

And this is where “Part II” begins…

I’m overextended in every conceivable way.

I have too much work to do and too many volunteer things for the kids. And of course, the obvious solution would be to cut back…but one, I like volunteering because then i know what’s going on with their activities. I want my kids’ school and extracurricular experiences to be good and they won’t be without volunteers so…I do it.

I am, it seems, a textbook martyr.

Who the f*ck has time to clean when they have martyrdom to pursue?

And then there’s the guilt with my son.

We’re reached a point in our family dynamic where my daughter’s life is front and center. Between scouts, tumbling (in preparation for cheer in July) and her whirlwind social life, almost every day is about her and not him.

Granted he is 6 and someday it will be all about him, too, but right now the guilt is gnawing at me like some kind of flesh-eating virus of the soul.

He gets dragged all over creation but it’s never for him. It’s always about her.

We also spend way too much time talking about HER life, which has been in a state of flux lately, duein large part to her age (lots of girl drama). The poor boy’s existence is completely eclipsed by his big sister and I hate myself for it.

I feel like I don’t get enough time with him and when I do spend time with him, it’s usually to do homework (always an unpleasant experience), to watch a TV show or when I put him to bed.

That’s not enough.

No wonder he prefers hanging out with his dad. And I’m not jealous. I’m glad they are bonded like they are. But I feel like I’m missing out on my baby’s life and one day, he’s going to be this big boy that I don’t even recognize and who will merely grunt at me before he disappears into his room for hours at a time.

I keep trying to find ways for us to spend time together but seriously, the minute we sit down to watch something together, I have to fight to stay awake. Children’s fare always has a sedating effect on me.

But if I try to take him to a movie or to do something fun without his sister, she gets upset that she’s not included, which is, admittedly, a perfectly normal reaction.

He always wants to have a friend over or have a playdate but most of his friends live far away (he attends a magnet school) or go to an after school program so it’s a lot harder to organize these things. He sees his sister always having friends over or going to their houses and he wants to do the same but it’s just not possible and I feel so f*cking bad about it.

And this ushers in Part III: The Peanut Incident & Dealing with the School

I’ll save that for next time because if you think THIS was long, Part III will seem like War and Peace.

Or maybe mostly just war.


And now it’s time to pack the lunches, lay out the clothes and a million other little things so I can get up and go back to school to help set up for a big party.

*head meets desk*



  • We have an 11 yr old daughter and a seven year old son.. OMG my family dynamic could be a CARBON COPY of yours– it is a CONSTANT balancing act- especially not to allow my overly loquacious daughter to outshine, out talk and monopolize every.single.conversation– and I have made it my very clear mission to try and tell her to zip it so that my son can get a word in edgewise–

  • amanda says:

    I hesitated after each period, so familiar is your desperation, defeat and undeniable hurt. This is all so hard. I think what i am learning is that we experience cycles and we have to recalibrate, even though it feels like we have already done the explaining and ground rule setting. We had a birthday impasse where expectations and logistics and ability and willingness just did not meet. I was angry, hurt and really just sort of throw-my-hands-in-the-air weep and be done with it.

    It is probably little solace, but coming here and seeing your words, knowing shades of your experience, I feel less like I am screwing up and letting down at every turn.

    Wish I could hug you and give you a 45 minute break.

    • IzzyMom says:

      Amanda, thank you for this. (And if I’ve never told you before, you are a beautiful writer… Even in your comment it comes shining through)

  • Dorothy says:

    Wow these days are so long and tough to get through – I remember them even though I am long past them. Long days and short years is how I’ve heard them described.
    The only thing I can recommend is to learn to say no to busy work activities. I get that if no parents help out that they won’t happen but do all events need to happen?
    Are you spending quality time with your child during the activity? By leading a girls group or teaching a Sunday School class, at least you are spending time with your child. Take each child out twice a month for some one on one conversation. A simple ice cream conversation is all you need. (Dad should be doing this with his daughter especially) Kids need to help with housework or else they will never understand why you are not available to them. Because it all takes energy of which there is a limited supply, sadly.
    The days go through in a blur, it seems the only thing we remember now are the vacations we took as a family. I guess because we got out of the old routine. I wish I could have done more intentional parenting but recognize that with the limited amount of energy after a full day at work, if everyone was fed and safe in bed at the end of the day, I was a great parent! ;-) And you are too!

    • IzzyMom says:

      Long days and short years

      That’s brilliant…because it’s so true. The days are long but the years fly by. As exhausted as I am, I admit that the thought of these years zipping past me as they do puts me in a terrible state of melancholy sometimes. I wish I could freeze time…or revisit it at will, like a DVR of life.

  • tammy b says:

    i’m right there with ya sista. i’ve got an almost 11 yo and 8 yo twins (all girls) and believe me when i say, you are not alone. thanks for letting me know i’m not either!

    • IzzyMom says:

      You’re definitely not alone. But how do you handle three? Any words of wisdom or advice you can impart? I really want to know how other people deal with these things.

  • Apryl's Antics says:

    This was my first end-of-the-school-year as an underachieving mom. It was heavenly. No teacher gifts, no bus driver gift, no volunteering to do the SLIDESHOW for both kids’ classes, no photographing field day, etc.

    I probably repeat PART I, monthly. I am a much bigger asshole than you.

  • Lisa E says:

    I’m so sorry. What mom doesn’t feel overextended and undervalued, and sometimes takes it out on her kids? We all do it. This was a very brave post to write, and I admire you for putting it all out there. It’s easy to be a shitty mom, it’s hard to be a good mom. Hang in there, friend. If we lived closer, I’d invite you over for play dates and wine. For now, though, ((hugs)).

    • IzzyMom says:

      There are a handful of awesome people I’ve met via the internet that I desperately wish were my neighbors…you’re definitely one of them. Thanks :)

  • sarah piazza says:

    Umm. Are you living at my house? Not even slightly kidding.

  • Heather says:

    Wow, I’m really not the only one. Thank you for being brave enough to share.

    • IzzyMom says:

      You’re definitely not the only one, as evidenced by all the great and supportive comments on this post. Thanks for letting me know that *I* am not alone :)

  • Patois says:

    Oh, how I wish I could offer you more of a bone than “Me, too.”

  • Anissa says:

    “Oh hi” says the person who called her kid an asshole AND MEANT IT.

    She was.

    The stress, the level of obligation we carry gets to be too much sometimes.

    I love you even when you know your kids are assholes and they get it from you.

  • Angel Smith says:

    It’s fucking HARD, isn’t it? Yeah, of course it’s all worth it in the end and all that shit, but for crying out loud, why can’t we just respect each other’s struggles and admit that parenting is hard, and it’s harder in 2012 than it ever has been, except for the fact that we generally have plenty of food and shelter for them in 2012. Everything is so damn complicated.

    But you know, I really don’t think that our kids seeing us at our weak points is such a bad thing. THEY will be more likely to respect someone else’s struggle because they realize that ours exists, and without those crash and burn moments, they will just go on into adulthood expecting it, and others, to be perfect all the time.

    Empathy is a gift, and you just helped pass it on to yours. Well done.

  • Headless Mom says:

    I am SO THERE!! I hear you, agree with you, been there, and TOTALLY UNDERSTAND. To a degree that you have no idea.

    Hang in, Mama. This too shall pass, and I know you’re a great mom.

    Thought: Can you say no to one (volunteer) thing for your daughter so that you have a little more time to do something with your son? I know that when I feel like it’s a little heavy on one side that I try to balance it a little on the other. Not perfect but it helps.

    • IzzyMom says:

      That’s good advice that I took the other day. I kept my son out of school on Friday, the day before his birthday party, and we went out to lunch, went shopping and errand running for party stuff and topped off the afternoon with froyo drowning in M&M’s. He’s been having a hard time recently with a few things and that day seemed to set him right :)

  • This is The Overwhelmption.

  • Laurie says:

    I love you, Janet.

    I wish I lived closer, so I could help you out, or just hang out. :) And I know it’s maybe not so helpful to hear this, but you feel like an asshole because you ARE a great parent and person. It’s the people who yell and lose it without the conscience who have the problem.

    I was a demanding little girl. Sometimes we have to hear “no”, and sometimes when we’ve been taking our lucky little lives for granted a lot, we have to hear it louder. ;) I think one of the hardest things about parenting has to be managing the negative times like that, but if you don’t express frustration or pushback towards a kid who is pushing boundaries, they’re never going to get it that they’re necessary.

    I hear how tired you are. I’m glad you wrote it down because to be this kind of honest is awesome, and hopefully helpful for you. xo.

  • Izzy — blowing up is important to quell children’s inherent narcissism. They have to know that parents are human beings, not just robots there to do their bidding. It’s good they know that we have limits and explode sometimes (I’m not talking Mad Men style, but something in between). I’ve totally lost it with my daughter. I remember yelling, “And I took you to UTAH!” through the wall. I later apologized for losing my temper, but stuck by my sentiments. I can tell you’re a great mom who cares and works hard so cut yourself a break. Maybe your daughter will think first before trying to wear you down again. xo S

  • Jaelithe says:

    Been there, done that, got the postcard of shame.

    I think you need a day off. Stick the kids with the husband and go to the library and read trashy novels in a forgotten corner and DO NOT THINK about all the work you should be doing instead.

    And then write part three, please, because I’m on the edge of my seat here ;)

  • Libby says:

    I think it’s okay to show your kids you’re only human, and that you can only do so much. Not just because then they know not to push so hard, but because it will let them know they don’t have to be superhuman. You can fall, you just have to get back up. It’s when you fall, don’t realize you’ve fallen, and stay down that you have issues.

    As my Mom always tells me “it’s only the bad parents who never feel like they are bad parents.”

    • IzzyMom says:

      “it’s only the bad parents who never feel like they are bad parents.”

      I tend to agree with you there (and that would be directly related to Part III :)

  • As the mom of a kid who is intense, I cop to having more than one time that I’ve lost it. I’ve said I’m sorry, and we’ve moved on.

    I can relate to a lof of what you’re saying about the one child’s needs overshadowing the other child’s…oy can I!

  • Katie Gillpatrick says:

    Thanks for writing this and putting yourself out there. I so needed validation tonight that I’m not alone in this chaos! I have a 2 and 3 1/2 yo and I can’t help but wonder what the F I was thinking about when planning them so close together!! Like you said, most days are fine, but tonight was one of those ones I wish I could take back. There would be no more reproducing if we truly knew how hard parenting really was before having kids! :) And don’t you love when you try to tell your husband about how awful you feel, and they either say “I’m sorry honey it was such a rough night”, or, they start to give you advice?! All I can think is “oh yeah, tell me all about what I did wrong here, because if you had to do what I do, our children would be gone or you would have run away by now!”. Ugh. Yet, life goes on as you say. Thanks for this- thank God we are all in it together! :)

    • IzzyMom says:

      People tried to tell me, when I was pregnant, that parenting is hard; that it’s not all Pampers commercials and rainbows. You brush it off because you can’t even begin to imagine the reality of it all.

      I tell people that are expecting “It’s the hardest job you’ll ever love”. I think that comes from an old Army recruiting commercial or maybe for the Peace Corps ??? but I think it’s fairly accurate. Of course, they don’t listen either :)

  • roo says:

    I say ah Holy Crap!!!!

    Too much! Oh, you are doing great– just too much!

    It’s funny– I just wrote to you on my site a few days ago, that I couldn’t even imagine you not being the fun parent. You’re vivacious!

    But vivacity takes energy, and, while your level of energy astounds me, you’ve stacked up the tasks and expectations to more than meet it.

    Seriously. I don’t know how you do it, and quite frankly I’m amazed you don’t blow up at people regularly. I would, with your schedule.

    I don’t think you were asking for advice, so I’m not offering. But I do wonder if some of the energy your daughter expends whining could be used to clean instead, so you have some free time to chillax with your boy-o.

    You’re amazing. I hope since you wrote this you’ve had some time to come ’round and see it for yourself.

    • IzzyMom says:

      You are so kind, Roo. But I have to be honest..I don’t feel like I’m doing great. I feel like a giant wad of mediocrity (or worse) a lot of the time. I may be doing everything but fear I’m not doing much of it very well.

      Another commenter mentioned a need for recalibration now and then. I’ve clearly reached that point. This is why self-help books are such big sellers because HOW does one do that and stick with it? These patterns we move in are so hard to change *sigh*

      On the upside, my kids both do chores and with remarkably little complaining. Maybe I need to upgrade them to laundry and grocery shopping :)

  • I don’t even have kids and I get overwhelmed. I can totally understand that everything gets to be TOO MUCH. I don’t have any advice for you (thank God, right?) but I will say I think you needed to vent that all out. In front of your kids and online! Having stress build up over time needs to have a safety hatch to escape from. If it makes you feel better inside to get it out of your system by blogging, then do it. You sound like you’re trying to do everything and need to start doing less instead of more. Like having your daughter pick between (activities or material possessions) which she wants more instead of saying yes to everything or no and then switching to yes after nagging. I KNOW you’re a great Mom, you don’t need ot prove that to anyone. Denying your kids a few things will NOT hurt them. It may help them down the road. Sounds like advice but I just wish I could take some of the burden off you for a short time. The good thing is nothing stays the same and this will all pass…

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