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The good, the bad and the ugly – the real truth about parenting

Last night I was tired but couldn’t sleep. I kept tossing and turning. I would stretch my legs and sigh. I had to get up out of the bed.

I grabbed my notebook that I haven’t writen in since we bought the computer and I went to the kitchen. I sat and wrote to make myself tired.

Here is what I wrote:

It’s hot and I can’t sleep. My legs ache and each time I move them one will pop. Even my feet ache and pop. I feel as if I need an one hour massage to loosen up. I am sitting at the kitchen table writing with a coloring pencil that I found in the dark. It’s purple. In highschool I would write long notes daily to my friends in a new color of ink. Sometimes, I would switch the color up to four times in one letter trying to make it all match and pretty. Talk about hard work.

The fridge is humming. This is the only other noise I can hear besides the quick scratching of my pencil on paper. I see a huge pile of dishes to be put away in the morning. The floor needs mopping even if I mopped it just the other day. My fridge needs cleaning before it becomes a science project. My windows are spotted with dirt and sticky hand prints some of which were made with chocolate.

I get depressed with all the cleaning for nothing. One day later there are new handprints on the doors and windows. The floors are covered in spills and food crumbs. Toys are littered from one room to the next. It never ends.

I love my children. I just get tired of all the messing. No matter how much I clean my house is still messy. It makes me tired down to my bones.

Having children isn’t about only the good times, it’s about all the in between times. It is about fighting for small moments of “normal”. It is about having your own time and remembering who you were and still are, besides being a mother. It’s about fighting to not lose “you” in the responsibility and demands of parenting. It’s about wearing that new skirt you feel like such a hot mama in instead of the big mama you usually feel like. Don’t worry the feeling fades as soon as your dear child rubbes their tired snotty face all over the front of it. See! That is parenting.

As I look around me, I see work. I see dishes that never go away and toys shoved behind furniture and into corners. I see that being a stay at home mother isn’t easy. I always laughed at mothers that complained how it was more work. I thought they were crazy. I was wrong. You wanna know why? It is more work.

You never have a break. The house is in a constant state of messiness because instead of your kids being at the daycare making messes there, they are at home. You have to make breakfast, lunch and dinner. All of that means more dishes to wash and floors to clean. My kids can’t eat without getting it on the floor and themselves. I clean the bathroom twice a day. Once after the kid’s bath and then again after mine. I do one to two loads of laundry a day as well as wiping all the doors and pieces of furniture in the apartment down. Each day is a struggle to potty train and change endless diapers. It’s a nightmare of accidents and happenings.

It’s about coming into the kitchen after just hanging up a load of laundry to dry and finding that all your spices have been dumped into a huge pile on the floor. Three babies (yes, Boy Blue was in on it!) are now upset because you are the mean mother that destoyed their artwork with the vacuum. It’s about finding chocolate pudding smeared all over various objects or furniture. It is about being afraid to turn them loose without keeping a constant eye on them. However, it is impossible to do just that. As hard as I try they will find a way to get into or out of everything.

No one tells you how hard it is to be a parent. No one tells you that your temper and patience will be tested daily. No one tells you that it is the unconditional love and basic instict to reproduce offspring replacing you after your death that keeps you from hurling them out the window. Everyone will tell you about the good but they don’t tell you about the bad or the ugly.

Parenting is not just the beautiful moments even if there are many. It’s a whole lotta work. Parenting isn’t easy. New parents don’t think about all the work having a child is while they are looking at cute newborn clothes. I didn’t. I never thought about all the sleepless nights, the endless dishes, cooking, scattered toys, chocolate smeared walls and windows, snotty faces, screaming, fighting, tantrums, feeling like your heart will burst from your throat as you see them fall or see blood on your child or all the other things that happen. No one tells you about all of this.Let me share parenting with you through images from my world.

THE GOOD…

THE BAD…

Chocolate pudding and scribbles are not unusual in this house.

They get into all my cabinets that are not childproofed and pull everything out.

THE UGLY…

Potty training with Angel Girl was a breeze. I haven’t even started with Petite Clown because Sweet Bear’s potty training has been such a nightmare.

Petite Clown started picking her face last year when she got a bug bite on her face. Ever since then she has picked tiny sores on her face until they are big sores. She does it only when she takes a nap or goes to sleep at night. I have talked to her doctor about it and she assures me it is just a tick. She told me that Petite Clown won’t have scars. I think it is a tick but I am not so sure she won’t have scars. I am going to sew the ends of a long sleeve shirt together and put it on her everytime she naps or sleeps at night. I don’t care if she doesn’t like it right now. She will thank me when she is bigger. She has got to break this habit. I have looked online and there is nothing about it. If anyone knows someone else that had this problem with a child please tell me what they did to keep the child from picking.

Sweet Bear dropped her ice cream. She then cried for several minutes . I felt bad for her but really wanted the ear splitting screams to stop. We wouldn’t get in the car until she stopped. I do that. I stop in the middle of the sidewalk until they stop screaming or I won’t get into the car. Riding in the car with a screaming child is the pits. Plus, it shows them they are not the boss. I stay in control by putting limits down.

Petite Clown pulled out all of her shoestrings and lost the matching one. We had to take her in public like this a few times until I got luck and found a pair under her bed in the deepest of deep corner. Thanks, again, to my mother and Doc for telling me about tying a knot in the shoestring so that she couldn’t pull it out. Now, she is over that stage and so far hasn’t tried to pull the shoestrings out of her new shoes.

Kids go through stages of doing things. Right now Petite Clown takes her food and throws it on the floor or rubs it on herself or anything else in the house. Last night as I was doing the dishes and they were eating she began throwing her food on the floor until I turned around and caught her. I made her pick it up with me. That is how I got Sweet Bear to stop doing the same thing last year. They are only 12 months apart.

Babies cry a lot! Boy Blue actually doesn’t too much, but all my girls did and do. Even Angel Girl will still stomp her feet and pout for an hour even if she doesn’t cry anymore.

The truth is moments like below don’t happen everyday in my house. It happened only this one time and that is why I captured it on camera. My kids never take a nap at the same time and there is rarely a full night where one of them doesn’t wake me up at least twice.

Boy Blue’s bed needs painted and fixed where the two girls keep climbing into bed with him. They have rubbed the paint off and broken down one side of the rail. No matter how many times I tell them to not climb on his bed, they still do. They love their little brother and can’t stand it when he is in his bed alone.

The reason I started my Joy of parenting category was to share my own experiences as a parent with others. I just spent some time looking through the archives of this category and I think so far I have done a good job showing the good, the bad and the ugly of parenting.

I have moments with my children when I feel blessed, moments when they make me double over in laughter and I have moments where I have to be away from them.

I am not a perfect mother. I am doing the best I can. I don’t worry to much about it. I think people judge parents too harshly. Everyone has their idea of what is a good or bad parent. Believe me before I had kids of my own I judged parents in a smug I know better than they do way. Ha! Once you become a parent for real all that smugness gets rubbed right back in your face.

I have let my kids eat chocolate cake for breakfast. I have sent them to bed dirty because I was too tired to give them a bath. I have yelled at them and made them cry when I swore I would never yell at my children. I put them in their room and shut the door when they are really bad. I won’t let them out until they stop screaming and crying. My mother thinks that is mean. I don’t care. I would rather do that than smack them. I have to do what works for me.

As a parent you are not allowed to talk about the bad or the ugly times. If you do people will think you are a terrible parent or that you need a break. It isn’t that you are a terrible parent or even that you need a break. Venting is nice.

You will get advice from everyone and it will drive you mad. People will tell you how they are raising or raised their children. No matter how great of a parent you are there will always be others that will judge you. Always.

Parenting is the most important job in the world. However, it is a job. There are many responsibilities and heartbreaks along with the smiles and kisses and laughter.

Parenting is love and patience. Parenting is a skill that you do get better at over time and with more children. Parenting isn’t for everyone. I really believe that as much as we are programed through DNA to reproduce not everyone should.

I do wish that more support was given to parents and less judgement. We, as parents, are afraid to really talk about the bad and ugly times. I, however, think it is healthy to talk about it.

My kids are beautiful, smart and loving. But, they are selfish, mean and sometimes down right hateful. They are human. They are not perfect little angels and I don’t want or expect them to be. I let them live within my limits of what I think is best for them. I let them run in the apartment and jump on their bed. I let them tear out their clothes and play dress up. I let them be kids. But, I always make sure they are safe and that they have limits.

My husband and I do not agree at all on parenting. I am much more laid back than he is. Over time we are kinda meeting in the middle. This is another thing that new parents don’t always think about. You will not have the same views on parenting because you were not raised by the same parents. This is just another obstacle that you will need to overcome as parents.

I guess my whole point is that you can only be the best parent you can be. No one is going to agree on what is or isn’t a good parent. And, you will be judged as a parent by the least suspecting people. I think as a parent I judge myself the hardest. I feel guilty when they are sad or I have to be mean to them. As a parent you have to be mean sometimes. When I put them in timeout or take a toy the girls are fighting over from both of them, I am mean Mama. They tell me, “You mean, Mama!” Be prepared.

I think parents are judged too harshly today. Everyone is afraid to be a parent.

Why do people judge parents whose kids are healthy and happy? Why do they feel the need to pick apart something that is normal? When my kids cry and throw a tantrum in public people stare. I can see on their faces that I have somehow failed. My kid is out of control because I am a bad parent. How about the fact that kids get tired and when they are tired they are unreasonable? No, these judging characters don’t want to see that.

Last summer while waiting for the tram, Petite Clown was tired and screaming and crying. A woman looked at me like, “What aren’t you going to comfort her?” And, bent down to say sweet things to Petite Clown. Petite Clown did exactly what I knew she would do…She turned her best devil face towards the woman and screamed and kicked even louder and harder. The woman was stunned. Ha! She got what she deserved. Shouldn’t this woman have minded her own business and trusted that the mother, me, standing and holding the stroller of the screaming child would know best what her screaming child needed. Petite Clown is not the lovey dovey child. She needs her space when she is like that. If you try to comfort her she will only get worse. I knew that. Now, the judgement woman at the tram last summer does, too. However, I am sure she just thinks I have a devil child because I am a terrible mother.

As a parent beware of the judgemental actions and words of others. People will surprise you with their stupid advice and comments. Just shrug it off and don’t let them make you feel bad. Let me tell you these same people aren’t perfect parents and have been judged themselves. C’est la vie.

Love your children and just do the best job you can. No one is perfect. As long as your children are safe and happy, you are doing your job. What works for you may not work for someone else. That. is. ok.

Think about it!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Antipodeesse May 11, 2006, 11:09 am

    Well said Pumpkin! I really, really appreciate and identify with this message.

  • Pauline May 11, 2006, 2:28 pm

    Pumpkin – We all have these Mummy moments. We try to do our best, sometimes we don’t quite manage it, but most of the time we do.

    I like you regret shouting or my impatience with Leon sometimes, but I don’t think these are the things that will stick in their minds.It’s the good bits that they will remember.

    I’ve never been ‘lucky’ enough to be a stay at home Mum. I was back to work when Leon was only a few months old, and I try not to think wether this is good or bad it’s just the way it is in our family and I like to think it’s working out well !

    We Mums beat ouselves up to much about doing the right thing and maybe we aren’t but we are doing the best we can.

  • buzzgirl May 11, 2006, 4:54 pm

    Amen! I read once that the reason that babies are cute is biological – if they weren’t we might throw them out the window…

    I only have one, but I was completely alone through the pregnancy, and have raised her completely alone. My family and her father and his family live in another state. It can be exhausting, but there are times when everything is worth it. Of course, my daughter is now going through puberty, so things are getting ugly again…

  • carra May 14, 2006, 10:47 pm

    What a beautiful post. I think you are doing the right thing by showing all the sides of the parenting, it is completely different thing that you hear it is the truth. i respet you even though i can not mention my personal experience; I simply do not have one. I am pretty sure you are really good mother, because you are doing your best, that is MORE than anyone could ask for. No one should judge you.

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