The Real Problem with Parenting. Also with Marriage. Also with Being Ourselves.

The real problem with parenting, I’ve discovered, is that we have to do it every day. And the real problem with parents is that we’re made out of human. Also, kids. They’re made out of human, too, which, let’s be honest, doesn’t always go well.

Same goes for marriage. Every damn day, folks! That’s how often we’re expected to play this gig. And married people? Made out of human, too.

Also? ME. The problem with being myself is I never get a break. Not ever. In my whole, entire life, I’ve never had a day away from me to rest and recover and get a snack. A snack. Come on, Universe; a snack doesn’t feel like too much to ask. A 30 minute break, maybe, for a giant bag of consequence-free Doritos or a barrel of chemically-laden chocolate Ho-Hos. Instead, it turns out I have to be me all the time — no loopholes, no time off — which hardly seems fair given how I treat me some of the time.

Honest to God, I feel like someone should’ve thought this whole thing through a little more thoroughly before implementing the plan. Like maybe we didn’t have our best strategic thinkers on this. Or the project engineers used my high school and college work ethic, procrastinated like hell, pulled a last minute all-nighter, and turned in a half-assed, ill-considered product hoping the professor wouldn’t notice. Hey, Project Engineers — WE NOTICED. I mean, you have some serious potential here with the whole “human component” of your plan — there is magic there, for sure, and there’s genius and mystery and surprise and discovery — but there are some kinks, folks. Some messiness and murkiness and muddling and muck. Which we can deal with — we can — and even turn the mess into magic, conjurers of hope and harbingers of healing that we are. It’s the every damn day part that messes us up.

For example, I am spectacularly annoyed with my 16 year old man-child right now. You know why? BECAUSE HE IS SPECTACULARLY ANNOYING and just told me to chill — “Chill, Mom. Just chill, ok?” — and his said it in his “Geez, Mom” voice and added a precious “Whatever” and a darling eye roll even though I only said, in the most endearing way, that he should seriously get up off his lazy butt, right the hell NOW, because I am tired of asking him to do the chores he was supposed to do yesterday, or else he is going to lose ALL the privileges in the WHOLE world for the REST of his life which is going to be VERY SHORT if I, his loving and increasingly homicidal mother, have anything to say about it. 

And I honestly — honestly — feel like I would be very, extremely patient and kind if I did not have to parent him every day. Ev-er-y DAY. Like, I bet if I just had to parent him on Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons, I would ROCK it, you know? Rock it to the MOON.

In conclusion, I am considering starting a Change.Org petition so we can have more regular breaks from a) parenting, b) marriage, c) ourselves and d) being made out of human. Also, we’ll include snacks. I think it’ll be a hit. Who’s in?

Sincerely,

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
25 comments
  1. As a less seasoned mother than you, I am LOVING that little speech you gave your 16-year-old son. Seriously, I might have to start taking notes.

  2. I love that you mention snacks. I’m a huge proponent of snacks. My husband and I often joke about how I’m always looking for a snack vessel, like: (him) “how about this new (used) car?” (me) “well it does have a great compartment for keeping skittles.” (him) “what do you think of this jacket?” (me) “it does have nice deep pockets for snacks, so I vote yes.”

  3. Snacks…and beer?? Please. Sometimes I am so sick of being human…like I just ate a whole bag of jelly beans which were supposed to be for the “darling children” and their Easter baskets! Good Lord what was the creator thinking when he created humans?

  4. #preach #righttherewithya #sayitlikeaboss

    I feel this way all.the.time.

    Good mommy…If, and I repeat IF, I didn’t have to do it all the day long. And every day of the week.

    Amen!!!

  5. Well, I’m in a different place today, so I feel like if we’re going to do a change.org petition, it would be to make it so that if you have the flu, and you’re coughing and coughing and coughing, and sounding like a seal when you do so, and you’re doing it so much that your entire abdominal area is wracked with pain each time you cough because those muscles are tired, and so you drink more water because that hydrates your throat and maybe will help you cough less, then in that state, we should be exempt from having to pee, because since I’m using all my energy to cough, and in between coughs, to will myself not to cough, it doesn’t seem fair that I should also have to expend energy to run to the bathroom every hour. Can we just tack this on as a pork barrel amendment to your petition???

  6. This couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for me. I’d be happy to cosponsor your petition. I really, really need a break from my marriage especially.

    1. This kind of makes me sad. 🙁

  7. For years, I bemoaned the fact that my children Would Not Sleep. Every single day, they bounced out of bed, loaded with energy and questions and I Wants. Now that they are all teens and up, they sleep in beautifully. (Okay, it’s because they were up all night. But I wasn’t, so it counts.)

    So what did I do? I got a puppy. Did you know that puppies never, ever, ever sleep past5 a.m.? And that the one time they do, you tiptoe to their bed to make sure they’re still breathing, just like a human baby? And they are full of energy and I wants, with the joyful additions of needle-like teeth, razor sharp claws, and needing to go outside to pee. At least diaper changing can be done inside where it’s warm and there’s light.

    1. Dianne, that was a rookie mistake. I can say this because I have done it twice. Puppies are just so darn cute.

  8. I am so in!!!!

  9. Who’s in? ME! ME! I completely identify with the feeling that I could parent well if I could do it in small doses, but I realized today that I continually run into the wall of “It is Saturday morning and I have done the “parent thing” all week long, supporting hubby’s need to get a nap in after dinner and then kiss the boys before going back to work on lesson plans until O-dark-thirty and I have done this Monday to Friday but now…NOW it is Saturday morning and I didn’t sleep well and I think it is bloody well MY TURN to opt out of the parenting thing for just a moment and be able to sleep. Yes. That.” But it was not to be this morning and I have to say I have had the major grumps all day because of sin in my own life and entitlement and more sin . . .so I am right there with you. Yes. Thank you for voicing what I was already feeling tonight. Bless you..

    1. Sorta like having to preach every single week, huh? 🙂

      1. Yes! I’m in too …

  10. YES I am in. I will sign the petition. I will create additional aliases to sign the petition. I will pretend I live in Chicago and find names of dead people under which to sign the petition.

    Sometimes I swear that every other person is more patient and loving with my 4-going-on-1-year-old than I am. And then I remember that no one else on the planet has to deal with her crap I MEAN experience her antics I MEAN uhhh, GETS to spend as much time with her as I do. Plus she loves strangers and people she’s just met, but could take or leave Mama The Bad Cop. (“Can I give you a hug?” “NO!!”) (“I’m sorry you hurt your finger. Can I kiss it?” “NO!!”) If I only hung out with her a couple hours each week, and never really had to get her to do things she didn’t want to do (like eat, drink, sleep, have a diaper change, stop screaming), then we would be GOLDEN. I would be the coolest grownup on the planet and she would be the cutest most darling little girl.

    Also, snacks. YES on the snacks. Every type of chocolate imaginable please. And lots of fresh fruit. (Putting pineapple down bra – optional. 😉 ) And all manner of other delicacies that don’t get bogarted immediately by a hovering munchkin or three. My 7-month-old is hitting a growth spurt at the moment and currently eats all day AND all night, and between making enough milk for her and chasing the toddler pack all day, I feel like I don’t ever get enough to eat.

  11. I’m in!!!! Breaks all around! Mostly from myself, no wait, marriage, no wait, parenting. Like I said…. Breaks all around!!! And snacks.

  12. I am all over that part time parenting gig! Terrible twos were nonexistent, but whiny three-nager is going to cause this very patient Mama to start day drinking (I have worked in a special ed setting since I was 14 and my patience is awesome. But whiny and/or sassy three year old makes me forget every strategy I have ever learned in dealing with children and drives me crazy). I just threatened to call the Easter Bunny and tell him to hop right over our house, and feel horribly guilty about it
    Also, the snacks should be whatever you hide in the bathroom or closet to eat so your kid(s) don’t ask you to share….

  13. Yeah, that part time parent thing would have been fantastic. This reminds me of what happened during the Christmas break of my son’s freshman year of college. We had only seen him a couple of weekends during the first semester because he was so in love with Baylor University that he couldn’t leave. However, Christmas break is very loooooooong. So after a couple of weeks, I realized something. I loved my son very much, BUT it was easier to love him from afar! 🙂

  14. I had to read this aloud to my husband. Just had to. Thanks for the belly laugh!

  15. “spectacularly annoyed” and “three-nager.” <3

  16. I just told my husband, who has never read this blog, that I love you because you are so in sync with me. His response was, “That’s frightening.” 😉 Now for that break and snack…

  17. When did my 13 year old decide she could say “Alright mom, keep your hair on”? Seriously, I should ground her for life but then I’d always have to parent her.

  18. Yes, ma’am. I’m in especially if there are snacks involved.

  19. I’m in. Today my 2nd oldest turns 18, so I’ve got that going for me. However, my youngest called me controlling–he has nooooo idea. BTW, love, love, love your blog.

  20. Hang in there, Beth! I currently have 3 out of my 4 “grown” children under the roof right now – and my heart is soaring – doing it’s ultimate happy dance. But, when they were all under by roof full time – that whole “made of human” thing, and the “need a break from being me” thing were ever present. While my mostly 20-something kiddos (19, 24, 26 an 28) don’t really get that they are sentenced to forever be my “kids” and thus, me their “‘rent” it is none-the-less one of those engineering flukes you mention. IF your heathens make it to their 20-something selves you will get that break from yourself – I promise! Parenting, though, sorry, no matter how old they get – there’s always going to be parenting that will need to happen!

  21. I’m all in, but with the stipulation that there will be a law against sharing the snacks because this hangry pregnant mama is tired of sharing food with an increasingly whiny three-nager.

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