Even thinking about writing this post makes me feel a bit uncomfortable, like it will expose me for the fraud I am. Like perhaps the mommy police will find out who I am and beat down my door to berate me for these thoughts. But I have to say it--sometimes, I really don't enjoy being the mother of a toddler.
The baby days were idyllic, once E and I got on a schedule that made her happy. She ate every three hours and napped shortly thereafter. Most of her awake time was spent with me marveling about what an incredible baby she was. And she was one of those wonder babies that was adaptable. As long as E was fed on time, she was perfectly content to bask in our adoration and go anywhere--to a restaurant, to a crawfish boil, to JazzFest.
After her first birthday, things became a bit more interesting, as she navigated learning to walk, learning to talk, and beginning to learn that she is her own person. But since she turned two (and now three), I find myself more and more exhausted, exasperated, and frustrated as we both try to learn how to make our way through the toddler years. Now, although there's still plenty of marveling at the incredible being that is my daughter, it seems as if a lot of my time is spent wiping her bottom, picking up her toys, negotiating with her on learning to pick up after herself, putting her in time-out, saying "no," saying "hurry up," doing laundry, and trying to come up with meals she'll eat, all while also holding down a full-time job and having a husband who mostly works nights and weekends.
The best way I've been able to describe it to friends is that at least once each day, she makes me laugh out loud, followed shortly by wanting to beat my head against the wall. Why do so few people talk about this part of motherhood? Is it wrong to get bored with playing princess eight times a day? Or to feel terribly unchallenged when putting together a puzzle for the 432nd time? To get frustrated when you try to prepare a somewhat healthy meal for your child, only to have it rejected, while the ungodly orange Kraft macaroni and cheese is always devoured? To feel frustration when you have to fight the same battles over and over again? To sometimes feel relief when bedtime arrives?
I tried to do an internet search last night for other mothers who might sometimes feel this way--but apparently, I couldn't figure out the right words to google. Searches for "toddler + mother + frustration" resulted in lots of tips for how to deal with a frustrated toddler. Searches for "mother + dissatisfaction" brought up psychiatric evaluations. All of that was a little disturbing to me--is there really no one out there talking about the dissatisfying parts of motherhood? Do I really need psychiatric help because I feel frustrated with parenting some days?
I love my daughter fiercely and immensely. But sometimes, I miss my pre-parent days. I miss staying out as late as I wanted on a Saturday night and drinking too much, knowing full well that I'd have all day Sunday to recuperate, if need be. I miss those long, leisurely Sundays when K and I would order takeout and a couple of pay-per-view movies and never leave the house. I miss long, romantic dinners. I miss going to the movies. I miss sleeping past 6:00 a.m. I miss feeling like I have time for myself to read, to shop, to tackle a new recipe. I miss quietness. I miss solitude. Hell, I even miss going to the bathroom by myself.
This too shall pass, I know. When I pick up my daughter from daycare today, her face will light up and she'll run across the room as quickly as she can to hug me, and it will all be worth it. And one day, I'll look back with longing on her toddler years, just as I do on her too-short babyhood. But still, I wonder--is it okay to sometimes feel less than enthralled with parenthood? And if so, why do so few people talk about it?