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I Get Angry at My Kids

I keep wanting to start this post off with, “I love my kids.” But I don’t like that sentence. It’s too obvious. And honestly I feel silly typing it. Everyone loves their children. It’s just how nature has us designed. It’s not something we work at. It just happens.

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder's boys

I feel that love on a deeper level than I thought even existed before having kids. Often it washes up inside me like a wave and brings tears to my eyes. It makes my heart swell and my face flush. Loving children is like trying to understand how the universe is expanding at the speed of light. It’s beyond rational thought. It’s so clearly a part of our natural state.

As this new love set in upon the birth of my first son, Jack (4.5 years old), I wasn’t too surprised. I was looking forward to learning this new role and all the love that I imagined come with it. In all of my fatigue I remember sitting up late thinking about how much I loved this baby. His face, his eye lashes, his fingers, his toes. I was consumed with this baby. I was head over heels in the only way that can’t make a husband jealous.

The big shocker was when all of the others feelings set in. I learned that I was going to feel guilt, vulnerability, fear and sadness at levels that I had never comprehended. Breastfeeding brought me to my knees. I felt desperation and failure that no other experiences in life up until that point had prepared me for. His first cold was terrifying. I shuddered in fear at his fragility.

As he grew so did the stress of motherhood. We were stressed about sleep, then stressed about health, then stressed about how to deal with this growing human with free will and a flare for the wild side. How could any human, I don’t care how old, think it’s OK to simply walk off the edge of something? Or hurl himself off the arm of the couch? Or hang on the counter and flip upside down? Or whine for an hour? Or have a tantrum at Target? Or hit me. Or bite me.

Suddenly we were bouncers in a night club and I wasn’t too sure I liked the antics of a couple of our patrons.

Now we have two of these drunken bar thugs since we had Exley (21 months old). Sometimes I feel so beyond myself angry at them. I stay home with them all day and bring them through every single one of their moments. I watch them argue and chase each other and annoy each other. Sure, we have tons of fun, but I don’t want to ruin my angry rant with all that right now.

These two jokers can make me want to run right through a brick wall.

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder's son.

See this joker right here? This is the best picture I could get, but he takes his legs and gets them above the counter and flings his head all the back. Today he fell. Yep, right on his joker noggin’.

Look, I know this is normal and natural and even healthy developmental stuff, but it doesn’t make me less frustrated and angry when I am overwhelmed!

When Exley walks into the faint vicinity of Jack, Jack starts to yell to get him away and kicks his legs at him and flings his arms at him. Exley thinks it’s hilarious and throws blueberries at him or tries to take the book he’s holding.

Jack loves to try to lick things. Including Exley. Jack chases Exley up and down the hallway with his tongue out while Exley screeches and runs behind me for protection. I can gently repeat to Jack to keep his tongue in his mouth, that this is how germs get spread around, that he could accidentally lick up the cat’s puke, but he doesn’t care.

Exley copies everything Jack does, including super dangerous stuff that Jack might survive but that would surely cause Exley to be carted away in an ambulance. Jack doesn’t care, nor should he really have to worry about that, but requires me to get up mid-piss to save the life of a tiny tot.

Jack is getting bigger and is able to ward off major tantrums when he doesn’t get what he wants. He still can have huge meltdowns, but they are definitely getting rarer. Exley had the most massive meltdown the other day because I wouldn’t let him run into a parking lot. His body flailed around so much that his onesie ended up totally undone and hanging down outside his pants.

After writing this down I realize that most people are probably cracking up at these scenarios and here I am fuming mad. It’s silly. Really, it’s fucking dumb. I know. And I find that I cannot even come up with most of things that make me so frustrated with them throughout my day because they are lost in my brain outside of those moments.

My point is that I get angry at these guys. I was talking to a good friend of mine about gentle parenting. We were talking about frustrations with our kids and I said, “That’s why people say that we would never talk to our friends the way we talk to our kids.” She said, “If you cried that much I don’t think I would be your friend.” It was the most perfect illustration of how philosophies surrounding gentle parenting can seem so unattainable. Because so much of it is not based in reality. Don’t get me wrong, I believe deeply in gentle parenting, but there are times when I feel like I need to be perfect or a robot. And that just ain’t possible for this emotional gal.

Jack climbed on the table and I asked him to please get down, that it’s not safe to flail around on the dining room table. He ignored me and gave me a cheeky smile. Exley follow suit and climbed up there as well. I took Exley down and then Jack down and then Exley down and then Jack down. All the while gently and calmly telling them that this was not safe and that I would not be allowing them to play around on the table. After an already stressful day I felt this anger come to the surface.

Kids are really frustrating. So are many adults! It’s not that we aren’t parenting correctly. It’s just the facts! We hesitate to talk about this stuff and in our silence are so many parents feeling alone and ashamed. Here’s to you, mama, yeah you with the crying joker that you want to just walk away from. You are not alone.