Yes, ok, the green eyed monster is usually a reference to jealousy, but in this case, jealousy and resentment can be wrapped up into one negative force. Keeping with the theme of this mini-series of blogs on Parenting: The Sober Side, I think it’s appropriate for us to discuss resentment in parenting.
Most parents I know have had to give something up for their kids. Maybe it was a college degree. Maybe it was an overly demanding career. Maybe it was a favorite hobby — playing music, running marathons, hosting dinner parties. Between the rides to play dates and the school events and the homework and the after school activities (soccer, theatre, dance, etc) —- add to that the house-keeping required for a family of 2 or 3 or 4 or more —— there just isn't much time left for the parent to just be a human being.
And some of us feel resentful.
I know it’s not kosher to admit this. After all, this little being did not ASK to be brought into the world, right? It’s not HER fault that she’s taking up so much of my fucking time. I chose to bring her into the world, so I should be grateful to spend time with/on her, right? Wrong. Yes, I chose to bring her into the world, but that does not preclude me from wanting time to myself, from wanting time to spend on my hobbies, from wanting time to spend on my career.
When my kid was little and would be sent home from day-care or school because she was sick, I would feel so much resentment. Her being sent home meant that the rest of that day, plus probably the next day or two would be shot to shit. I would pick her up, head to the doctor’s and once in a while from the back seat I would hear, “I’m sorry, mommy.”
"I am such an asshole." I would think to myself.
I would tell her that she had nothing to feel sorry about, that I just had a lot of work to do and that I was worried about getting it done and being able to take care of her. I would hug her and hold her when we were at the doctor’s. I think I made her feel better. But I felt like a shit for making her feel bad in the first place.
I wasn’t one of those parents who rolled with the punches, understanding that this is what parenting is about. I didn’t get that having a kid meant having my life turned up-the-fuck-side down at a moment’s notice. And even when I got it, when it got through my skull, I didn’t accept it.
I’m at the stage now with my kid (who is going on 17) that when she surprises me with some new need for my attention, I do just roll with the punches. But I remember vividly the days when I didn’t/couldn’t. I write this blog to give credence to any moms or dads out in the world who have feelings of resentment towards their kids. I think it’s perfectly normal. You are normal. Just try not to act on those feelings — find a way to give yourself a little of what you need (time to yourself) — get a sitter, ask a friend, set up a play date. There are ways to get little breaks from your kid so you can do you. And it is important to do this as often as you need to, so you can be there for your kid when you are with him.
Parents are human beings, too.
Next time in Parenting: The Sober Side — It doesn’t End at 18.