Written by Amiee Cantrell-Webb, Contributor
Let me preface this post by saying I love my child more than my own life. I absolutely love being his mother. There is nothing I would not do for him. I wouldn’t change one thing about my unique guitar pickin’, Dolly Parton singing little man. While I could go on and on about how much I love being his parent, I’d be lying if I didn’t say the physical act of parenting a child on a daily basis is one of the most difficult (yet least discussed) realities of life.
Let me explain.
Yes, I love spending quality time with my son, but in a single day, I say NO, STOP IT, or PLEASE, ABE at least a hundred times. When I put him in time-out, I need a chiropractic visit afterwards because I'm repeatedly having to put all 40 pounds of him back in his seat. Since being consistent is one of the main tenants of being an effective parent, I MUST be mentally and physically prepared to deal with mischievous toddler misbehavior ALL DAY LONG, no matter how exhausted and overwhelmed I may be.
Don’t get me wrong - there are days when I look at my child and think, “I wish time would stand still. He is so sweet.”
But then there are days when I think, “Surely next year will be easier?”
In the last month alone, I have accidentally closed his pinky finger in the car door (he tried to stop the door from closing because he wanted to get back in the car and go have pizza!) and witnessed him trip and fall face first into our living room ottoman. The first incident required surgery and pins to fix, the latter required stitches.
My mom heart aches over every bone break, bruise, and gash. Every day that he is in that cast up to his armpit, complaining about itching, I hurt so badly for him. When we had to restrain him while they stitched his head, I cried as hard as he did. It was my hardest parenting moment to date. The first night after his fall, I couldn’t even close my eyes because I kept seeing him fall right in front of me, over and over again.
The truth is - parenting hurts.
While his injuries have made me age quicker than I should, I actually find it’s the little things that I struggle with the hardest. I fix eggs, bacon, and toast, but he’d like to fight with me over adding a side of cookies. I tell him not to touch something, and he touches it for pure devilish delight. I tell him it is time for a bath, then I get a cardiovascular workout trying to catch him, strip him, and bathe him.
At restaurants, my husband and I have developed the shovel method of eating because if we don’t finish before him, we might as well quit since the art of sitting quietly after he’s finished is not something he’s mastered yet. He can make a quick trip to the grocery an hour-long adventure, complete with public meltdowns and eating unwashed fruit out of the cart.
When I first started feeling that parenting was “no fun,” I spoke to a colleague of mine who said, “I’ll tell you the truth. I love my kiddos, but I hate parenting.”
That statement really clicked for me. Yes, I could love my child to the moon and back while still acknowledging that I hate setting boundaries and rules for my child.
I have a kid who tests every limit I set, and I both love his spunk and detest that obstinacy. I HATE being the healthy food police trying to feed him blueberries when he adamantly wants a gummy snack. I hate asking him to pick up his toys 112 times per day. I hate when he wakes me up at 4 AM on a workday and asks if we can turn Mickey on now! I hate arguing with him about getting a haircut. I also hate dealing with sickness, stitches, and broken bones.
Yet despite all this time spent in the dreaded disciplinary war zone, I absolutely adore my child and love being his mommy. I love him more than words can express. I live to see what funniness he will display each day and to see how he learns and grows.
It certainly isn’t all bad, and I don’t write this to discourage people from jumping in to parenting. I just want people to know the struggle is real, and too often in our society, we don’t discuss the brutal realities of what it means to parent a child. We don’t openly discuss the ugly truths very often because we are afraid it will make us look bad or like we love our kids less. So many parents feel that they have to sugarcoat their feelings just so people won’t look down on them.
But the truth is we moms need to be a wide support network for each other – not acting as a judge and jury when our feelings may not be the “norm.”
Admitting that you love being a parent, but hate the struggles of parenting doesn’t mean you love your kids less – it just means you’re a normal parent.
Amiee Cantrell-Webb is one of a growing number of women who waited to begin a family until after the age of 35 (she was 38 when she had her son Abe). She is a former SEC golfer who now teaches high school English and journalism in eastern Kentucky. Amiee and her husband Chad are proud parents to a feisty red-headed son who never allows for a dull moment in their house.