I just spent a day off from work with my 16-month-old daughter. She woke up happy, played for a while, danced to her “Shababa” CD, and the day started off well.
Then at breakfast she dumped a container of yogurt over her head (I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry), at the playground she insisted on trying to eat acorns and leaves, and she threw a temper tantrum while I was cooking dinner because I couldn’t refill her water cup while I had raw chicken on my hands. She wanted to do everything by herself, which meant another temper tantrum because she wasn’t getting any water out of her cup, but wouldn’t let me hold it for her to help.
Of course there were moments of smiles and laughter, but by the end of the day, I was frustrated and very tired of telling her “no” and “stop” over and over again. When my husband walked in the door at 8 p.m., I was very happy to let him play with her while I finished cooking dinner.
I imagine that for most people, this feeling of exhaustion is just a part of parenting. But, I feel guilty for not loving every moment of being a parent. Our journey to parenthood was anything but easy, and after nine years of infertility and pregnancy loss, I feel like I should relish every single part of raising my daughter.
During all of those years that I spent injecting myself with drugs to stimulate egg production or crying at another friend’s pregnancy announcement, I imagined myself dealing with even the most challenging days of being a mom with a smile on my face. I hated listening to other people who took parenthood for granted, who complained about every little thing.
So now, when I find myself getting overwhelmed, the little voice in my head says, “Isn’t this what you wanted?” And I question whether I have the right to feel tired, or frustrated, or angry.
I struggle with how to reconcile my feelings of gratefulness for being a mom (and knowing that there are so many people who are still struggling and may not ever get to be a parent) with my feelings during the tough moments. I think I knew throughout the infertility process that parenthood isn’t always easy, but I thought I would take things more in stride. I thought I wouldn’t let the little things get to me. I am learning that I have less patience than I thought I did, and I need to ask for help much more often than I thought I would.
I am learning to take one day at a time, to appreciate all the moments, but to recognize that I am not going to love every single one. I’m trying to give myself permission to feel what I am feeling in the moment, and still know that I love my daughter. The harder times also make the easy ones, like when my daughter gets up from playing to lay her head in my lap, or when she is so proud of herself for learning something new, that much better.