Question: I feel a lot of shame saying this, but I have a dirty little secret. Sometimes I don’t like my kids. I love them, but there are times when I just want to be left alone. In many ways I had to parent my mother, and I feel resentful that I always have to be “on” for my two children, even though I love them so much. I have meditated most of my life, and now it is hard to get even ten minutes alone. There are times when my kids are pounding on my bedroom door while I am trying to sit and meditate. Talk about not being very “spiritual” — they just want to be with me and I’m trying to tune them out!
Suggestion: Unless and until we look the truth squarely in the eye, we cannot change in ways that will ultimately serve us. What- ever we are experiencing — guilt, shame, exhaustion, awe, gratitude, joy — needs to be acknowledged for us to fully inhabit the complex person that we are. If you shy away from the moments when you aren’t thrilled to be a parent, you will only push your resentment underground, where it will leak out in the form of impatience, sarcasm, or withdrawal.
Feel what you feel. It makes perfect sense that you would yearn for your pre-child, unencumbered life. I can also remember times when I longed to be alone and meditate for a little while, only to hear that knock, knock, knocking on the door, accompanied by, “Momma! I need you!” And I recall hiding in the bath- room with a page-turner in the hopes that I might lose myself in the story the way I had enjoyed before becoming a mother. It is only by allowing ourselves to be present with whatever is going on that we can let feelings move through with grace.
We are, alas, simply human. We each bring to parenting the trials and travails of our own childhoods, paired with our unique temperament and nature. Some parents get lost in the joy and magic of raising children, never once glancing over their shoulder at the life they were living before their children arrived. But others step into the demands of parenting in fits and starts, doing their best to embrace the role but still haunted by a nagging uncertainty about whether they’re cut out for the job.
And within all of us lives the small child who just wants to be on the receiving end of love, kindness, and support. When we include him or her in the care and presence we offer our children, we can generate deep healing for the wounded parts of ourselves.
My advice is to be immensely patient with yourself, allowing whatever you feel to bubble up and be known. You may find it valuable to work with a therapist to move through some of the old feelings of resentment that are weighing you down. And when fam- ily life gets too chaotic, take a break! It is far better to ask a friend or family member to help you out so that you can have some time alone than it is to vent your frustrations in ways that are hurtful to you or your kids. Some moms form supportive networks that allow them an overnight once every few months, just to have twenty-four hours to recharge and do whatever they feel like from one moment to the next. Just moving through a day without factoring in the needs of others can be highly rejuvenating.
For more parenting guidance and support, check out my Parenting Without Power Struggles Monthly Membership Program.