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Struggles in Parenthood

March 18, 2011

DISCLAIMER: I wrote the post below last night, which is why many who know me will realize the things I describe did not actually happen today (but Thursday). The post sounded too awkward when I tried to re-write it describing the past. So as you read this,  suspend your powers of disbelief and pretend it’s Thursday again. (Think of how happy you’ll be when you realize it’s the weekend!)


You know the days when you feel like you really suck at parenting? Even though you know you’re a good mom or dad, you just feel like (today) you should not be a parent. Today was one of those days for me.

I knew today would have its challenges. Every third Thursday I attend a San Diego leadership seminar – which I LOVE – but it’s always a long day. I spent an hour driving from my house to the California/Mexico border for our law and society seminar, and then spent an hour driving home in the late afternoon. So naturally, I was exhausted when I made it home at 6 p.m. I had no clue what we were eating for dinner, and every creature in the house wanted my attention.

While I love every creature in the house, after 12 hours of sitting and intense learning, I kinda just wanted to be alone.  That, plus the anticipation of having to work all day Saturday coordinating an event for a job I’m no longer doing (long story; don’t ask!), is producing a bit of anxiety and short-temperedness in me these days.

By the time dinner was ready, it was nearly Sophie’s bedtime. But Bryan and I were starving and had to eat. So I couldn’t help being annoyed and at my wit’s end when Sophie’s in the bathroom making a mess with sink water, even after I’ve told her three times to stop. Then I hear my candle holder drop to the floor. I rest my head in my hands, shake my head, and try to breath.

Bryan didn’t understand why I was so annoyed with Young Sophie. This behavior is expected at her age, he said. And yes, I know she’s only 3-years-old. And her behaviors are absolutely in line with a child of that age. But I was tired, hungry, my head ached. So was it too much to ask for Sophie to listen the first time I tell her not to do something?!

As I expected, bedtime wasn’t a piece of cake either. Sophie’s goofing around and kept getting out of bed. I didn’t yell at her; but I annoyed and wasn’t very nice either. She replied to me in a sarcastic tone, SORRY! I left her room feeling frustrated, guilty, angry, and sad. I just didn’t want things to be a struggle. I guess tonight, I just couldn’t be a parent.

After I had some time to myself, I realized I didn’t want either Sophie or I to go to bed annoyed with each other. I went back into her room (I know I was taking a risk) to tell her I love her and give her a hug. She gave me a hug too, and then told me that three big girls at school didn’t want to play with her today, which made her sad. Why didn’t they want to play with me? she asked. It made me so sad. Maybe she had a tough day too. I hugged her again; things were calmer between us and she’s now sleeping soundly.

Now the house is quiet. I’m ready to rest up for another day that will surely bring its challenges and frustrations. But hopefully I’ll be ready to embrace it and be a parent once again.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. March 19, 2011 5:54 am

    Oh, Leah, you’re going to make me cry. This has happened to me so many times. Very, very often when my children were little. I always thought to myself, “This too shall pass.” And it helped a teeny bit.

    We have to give ourselves permission to have bad days. We’re human and we’re going to get tired. Sounds like you handled it the right way. By going back to Sophie and apologizing. From your posts, I can tell that little girl has a wonderful mommy. 🙂

    • leahsinger permalink
      March 19, 2011 3:34 pm

      Thanks, V.V. I really appreciate your nice words and it’s reassuring hearing from great moms like you that this is normal. This newbie is still figuring things out.

  2. March 19, 2011 2:48 pm

    We all have those days, I can totally relate, too! *hugs* you did right by your girl tho, by going back in and giving her a hug and chatting with her about her day. Sometimes we parents just need some time off, unfortunately, the kids aren’t old enough to realize that (eventually, they do get old enough! My 6yr old now knows that if I say I’ve had a rough night and am really tired, then she’s better off not trying to throw her weight around and I appreciate that and thank her for that often – makes both of our lives easier!).

    • leahsinger permalink
      March 19, 2011 3:34 pm

      Thank you! It did feel good to go back in and rectify the situation. I think we both slept better that night!

  3. March 19, 2011 9:14 pm

    It’s very normal to have off days, I can just imagine *sigh*. I must say you handled it quite well. Kudos 🙂

  4. March 20, 2011 5:24 am

    Lovely, sincere post…

    For parents, this type of situation is intensified because of the innocent young “victims” of our frustrations and exhaustion. But I can’t help thinking how this situation is common with all relationships – personal and work.

    Your post is a great reminder to remember we aren’t the only ones who might have had a bad day. Thanks!

    • leahsinger permalink
      March 20, 2011 11:22 pm

      Thanks, Hania. So true that it’s common this is to work as well. Guess that’s what makes us human.

  5. March 20, 2011 11:10 pm

    Oh Leah, I’m so sorry. I know it’s not the same, but I’ve felt this way with my cat (sorry, no kids yet). All of my girlfriends are mothers, though, and many feel the same way at times. My only piece of comforting advice for them? WE’RE ALL HUMAN; therefore, no one is perfect. You’re allowed to get annoyed with Sophie, and then apologize later. It doesn’t make you a bad mother–just a HUMAN mother. From what I read on here, you seem like a very warm, loving, and fun mother! Sophie is lucky to have you. 🙂

    • leahsinger permalink
      March 20, 2011 11:21 pm

      Thanks, Shari. That’s so nice of you to say. And I believe you can relate with your cat. I sometimes felt (and still feel) guilty all the time with my dogs. It probably just means we’re deep people. Thank you!

  6. March 21, 2011 3:57 am

    I remember times like this when my kids were little — and even a little bigger! I loved the way Sophie opened up with you when you went in for a hug. This reminds me of times when my daughter was young, when I had a bad day, often so had she–then through my opening up, she could too. Keep on talking (trite, but so true). Those bad days are tough…big hugs for you both!

    • leahsinger permalink
      March 23, 2011 8:55 pm

      Thank you! It is tough. But I think taking a breath, cooling off for a few minutes, and then reconciling is the best way to go. Despite our bad days, Sophie and I are very close. And I hope it stays that way.

  7. March 21, 2011 10:05 am

    I know I’m late to your post, Leah, but it was so well-written. I’m not a parent, but it seems the BEST parents are those who reflect like you do … and those who are hardest on themselves. In the end, you need to give yourself permission to be human. Maybe on those seminar nights, hubby is in charge of feeding and chores! How’s that for an idea? 🙂

    • leahsinger permalink
      March 23, 2011 8:57 pm

      I like it! Wanna send him an e-mail that it’s official?

  8. March 21, 2011 6:23 pm

    I love this post Leah, but I am sorry to tell you it will not get any easier. You and your daughter will have bad days and it’s ok – we all human. We can’t be perfect all the time.

    • leahsinger permalink
      March 23, 2011 9:02 pm

      I think the key is giving permission to be human and not feeling the need to be perfect. Not sure why us mothers think we should be anything else. Thanks for reading!

  9. March 21, 2011 6:52 pm

    I just wrote a post on a very similar subject today! I have had many days where I have felt that I was way too hard on my daughter and always made it a point to apologize to her before I put her down to bed and tell her that I would try harder the next day. It is definitely a fine line to walk and hard to balance your needs and your daughter’s, but I am sure that those types of days are few and far between and as long as you can acknowledge that it wasn’t your best parenting moment, you’re already a much better parent than you feel like right then! 🙂

    • leahsinger permalink
      March 23, 2011 9:03 pm

      Thank you! Your post so rang true for me! It’s very hard to balance your own needs with our children. They come first. But sometimes we need a few minutes to recharge, so we CAN put them first. Thanks for reading.

  10. March 26, 2011 1:06 pm

    I constantly feel like a bad mommy! I’m very good at apologizing to my kids. 😛 I also have a 3-year-old daughter, and feel there’s PLENTY that she knows, and oftentimes there is just NO EXCUSE for her behavior. (pause) I can be a bit intolerant. Since I’m her primary caregiver, my husband often doesn’t see the big deal, either, and may even laugh at something she or the 1-year-old is doing. It can be so hard to take care of everything and not be physically and emotionally drained… and then having to make dinner?! Hehe. Mommies unite.

    • leahsinger permalink
      March 26, 2011 11:02 pm

      Thanks, Karla, for reading. Yes, it is often draining, isn’t it?

  11. March 27, 2011 11:43 pm

    Wow. I feel like I just bonded with you–even though my kids are way past three years old! I applaud your honesty with this story. What mom can’t relate? I’ve been meaning to jump over and take a peek at your blog, and I am so glad I did.

    I’m going to comment again in a bit on your most recent post. So, I’ll see you there!

    • leahsinger permalink
      March 28, 2011 9:02 am

      Thank you so much! I’m glad you stopped by.

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