The Hardest Part Of Being A Parent

Posted on Posted in Writing and Motherhood, Yoga Practice.

10571919_10153384150650197_3675733436644782867_o

The rain comes down so heavily that the grass becomes a muddy pond. Rings of water droplets are visible from inside the house, as I look out the window.

My daughter asks for snow and, at one point, excitedly thinks she sees it, but it’s only the rain, become so thick she has mistaken it.

Smells of onion and sounds of sizzling and chopping and a little-girl, sous-chef voice trickle in from the kitchen. The baby carries a book around as big as her own body, and makes small breathless grunts as she heaves it up onto their play table and onto her new bean bag chair that’s too large for her.

The computer is nearly dead from not being plugged in. It’s sat unused and without care during several days of family time. Every day my daughter asks if she can go to school and, like the optimistic being she is, seems okay, if slightly disappointed, that she still has to stay home with me.

I unplug from social media, especially from Facebook, because I find it annoying me and detracting from my emotional well-being, but I don’t make a grand statement about this neglect. Instead, I talk to my husband, about things that have been weighing on me, but I’ve left unaddressed for many reasons. We marvel together over the adorableness of our daughter in her new hat. We wipe drippy noses of a baby with a cold, and we hug, until one of our children comes to pry us apart and pull our attention somewhere else.

The onion scent becomes stronger, but also finer, as it’s sauteed and melds into what will be soup.

The sizzling sound changes too, and I notice the absence of baby grunts. I pop up quickly from my chair at the dining table to see where she’s gone off to, and I find her in the pink-and-white chevron-patterned teepee, playing with a cloth book.

She gets up quickly too, acting as if she’s doing something wrong, but she isn’t, and now her audible efforts to move bigger-than-her objects and climb on top of things, combined with the occasional thud of a book falling, rejoin this post-holiday atmosphere.

My neck hurts terribly from not sleeping well and from not exercising yesterday. My shoulders feel stiff and I know I’ll need to move my body at some point, but I don’t feel ready yet.

The baby whines at my husband’s legs while he stirs milk into coffee. She holds her arms up and he tells her “just a second.” My oldest makes sounds of “helping”—light clangs and small tings and “okay” and “here we go” echo out from where she stands on a chair next to the big bamboo cutting board that we never put away.

This simple morning—of small children with colds, and of recreating holiday leftovers, and making coffee, and writing, and imaginations of little girls—settles into and fills the spaces of my cranky muscles that I hadn’t realized hurt from feeling emotions bigger than they can carry.

I’m grown, but my emotions are sometimes larger than I want to handle, and these moments encourage me to remember how my girls must feel—so small are they; so big are their experiences.

I’m called away again from my internal contemplation by a need to go get new pants for the baby. My husband isn’t sure why her pants were wet, but takes no chances in asking me to stick them in the laundry basket and find a new pair.

And that’s the most challenging part of being a parent, for me at least—it’s not having this space to be fully still for a random five minutes and feel something weighty, or to be lazy, or to watch a movie in one sitting rather than the three or four nights it will usually take.

Being a parent to young children is all-consuming—it’s present in every small crevice of my heart and, more, it is what my life is completely wrapped up in. I am not complaining.

For years we wanted children until we had our first, and our marriage is never secondary, but it’s also not always first anymore either. It’s all a balancing act.

It’s holding one person’s hand, while making room for two others (when we only have two hands); it’s finding time to be an “us,” and to be a “mom” and a “dad,” and an individual too.

We sat on the couch yesterday afternoon, cuddled up together, with children on laps and our hands clasped, and he said he knew if he didn’t get up and go biking now that the rain would stop him for days (at best). But he didn’t move. He clutched my hand more firmly and kissed a baby’s head, and we settled into an imperfect day filled with such perfection that we didn’t want to burst it with sudden movement.

The sudden movement of reaching for a cell phone, instead of taking in a still moment with my daughters; the sudden retraction of my hand so I can take a sip of wine; the sudden letting go of doing nothing, to do something more “productive.”

No, the hardest part of being a parent is when I want so badly for this second to last an hour, but for this day to move forward, and into an easier time of my life.

4 thoughts on “The Hardest Part Of Being A Parent

  1. *(I left this on HuffPost as well)* Iknow how you feel. It took me some time (albeit not a long time), to realize I was wishing away big parts of my kids childhood and my parenthood. My children did not come to me in a gentle way. I/we/us had to work hard and sacrafice and simultaneously win and lose to be together, and I wouldn’t change any of it. I know it sounds trite but find the easy in the hard. They want to play with us and that doesn’t last long. What we think is easier will only get harder. Our mighty role as guardian/warden/supreme being in their eyes is short and bittersweet, take hold friend. This is your life and from one parent to another-you’ve got this.

    1. Trev,

      I responded on Huff Post too. I’m grateful for your taking the time to not only read my article, but to make sure you commented (and that I saw). More, I’m thankful to know there are good people out there, going through parenthood and life and trying their best to be good and enjoy the journey. (This is exactly who I write for—you.)

      Thank you a billion times over, and happy New Year to you and your family.

      Warmly,
      Jennifer

      1. Jennifer, you’re very kind. I did some research and know that if we met we’d instantly be friends! I, like you, am a twin and loath playdates where I have to play and put the most effort in (if I have to come up with the games and play-it’s not a playdate, it’s me, playing with my kids, and someone else’s. I am also trying. Everyday. From a supportive husband to tall glasses of wine, all the very best to you in 2016 and to your family.
        With a parental high five,
        Trev.

        1. You’re a twin too?! See, now why can’t *we* have a playdate!? 😉

          Cheers to you, your husband, and family. (Long-distance hugs xoxo)

Leave a Reply