If memory serves, I cried once in the last five years. I’m no psychotherapist, but I’m guessing most people living in a time when it feels like the whole world is burning, both literally and figuratively, not to mention a global pandemic is raging… it’s “normal,” and I’d argue, “healthy” to process all the stress and emotion of the last year and a half with some tears. This is to say nothing of the personal ups and downs a human experiences in half a decade.
Don’t get it twisted. I’ve FELT like crying more times than I can count. And I’m not made of stone. A simple, sweet moment can cause my eyes to sweat a wee bit. But that is not what I’m talking about.
I’m referring to the cathartic and thorough cleansing that young children practice on the regular—good, old-fashioned, snot-soaked, sub-sucking, ugly crying. I don’t know what kind of wall I put up that prevented my ability to do it, but I’d begun to wonder if anything was capable of breaking it down.
Sometimes I’m hit so hard by parenting, I completely lose my footing. It sends me adrift in an ocean of stress and feelings of inadequacy so dark and deep, drowning feels imminent. Not because I don’t love my children. Not because I’m a “bad mom.” Nor am I ungrateful for the abundance of blessings in my life. I just get… tired. The metaphorical treading of water that is parenthood can wear a parent out. That’s the truth of it.
Parenting is f*cking hard. Being responsible for the care and development of other humans is the most exhausting thing I have ever experienced. When they were tiny, fragile newborns it was hard. When they were toddler tornadoes testing every limitation it was hard. Young children discovering the world of independence—hard. Tweens with explosive hormones—hard. Teenagers… GOD HELP US. It is so hard.
And yes, I am a partner with the many advantages of co-parenting. We have upper-middle class income, education, support and resources, etc., etc. AND IT IS STILL HARD.
My children are beautiful, wonderful, joy-brining gifts from a God whom I love and appreciate for trusting them to me and me to them. And simultaneously, my children are cunning parasites whose ability to hone in on my every weakness and inadequacy, at times, threatens to suck the life-energy right out of me.
This word vomit I’m committing here will likely hit as a tone deaf pity party to some. I’m willing to risk the judgement. Because surely I am not alone. And even if I am, I’m too damn tired to care. It needs to be said. I need to say it…
Parenting is f*cking hard and I’m f*cking tired.
I’m not unhappy. I’m not regretful. I’m not angry. Again, I’m not ungrateful. I’m just tired. My heart goes out to every parent across the globe facing the exhaustion of navigating this parenting life we’re all living. Some of us have children whose needs are greater than others. Some of us have children whose challenges are greater than others. Some of us are living this life without the children who should be growing and needing us. All of us… feel all of it deeply. And I’m willing to bet many of us, at times, feel as if we may drown in our desire to love our children well and do right by them.
When the tears finally came, they came in a torrent that shook my body in waves. I surely scared the shit out of my husband who is not at all used to seeing me cry, let alone used to watching me wail and crumble.
And now, after the storm has passed, I feel… a little less tired.
I think being seen by my husband; in allowing myself to really be seen, I tore down a façade I didn’t realize I was holding up. I ripped that sucker to the ground, friends. What was behind it was lain exposed and vulnerable… and very real.
Sometimes, I get tired. I will no longer pretend that I don’t. It is in the pretending I lost my hold on what is real and true.
You can’t pour from an empty cup, right? Well, that may be true, but I’d like to take it a little further. You can’t pour anything real from a pretend cup. My cup may be varying degrees of full at different times. My cup is definitely chipped and cracked. To some, it may look damaged. It is certainly imperfect, but it’s real. And, by God, she still pours.