I recently had a conversation with my eldest daughter, in which she said, “You know what Mom? When we were kids, you always seemed kind of angry…”
The comment caught me off guard, firstly because I never really thought about how I “seemed” when my kids were little, and secondly, because I was angry, but thought that I was much better at hiding it than I apparently was.
I took a moment before I responded to her.
“You know what Boo?” (She’s 27, and we still call her ‘Boo’)
“You’re old enough now that I can tell you this; I wasn’t ‘angry’, and I wasn’t mad at you and your brother and sister. What I was, was pissed. Though I love you guys, I was pissed because raising kids on your own is a massive job. I was pissed because when it came to everything about our lives; the house, the car, what you ate, your schooling, your friends, your social lives, your lessons, etc. the responsibility for every aspect of your lives fell on MY shoulders, and I felt it every single second, of every single day. I was always in motion. If I wasn’t actually doing something for you guys, I was thinking about it. I wasn’t ‘Me’ when you guys were little. I couldn’t be. And if I made you feel as though my ‘mood’ was because of you, I’m so very sorry…”
To which she replied, “It’s okay Mom. I get it. It’s cool.”
Thinking back on my own childhood, I remember thinking the same of my own mother. She always had this ‘edge’…like she was pissed off all the time. I wouldn’t say that she was necessarily mean, but I always got the feeling that she was…well…pissed. With the exception of the fact that my father died when I was a teen, I had a good childhood. My parents were cool, my siblings and I never wanted for anything. But I always felt like my mom was ‘pissed’ about her life. Not in a regretful way, but in the same way that I felt when I had three ‘little people’ who relied on me for every single fucking thing in life. The feeling of ‘overwhelm’ is…well…overwhelming!
It’s okay to be ‘pissed’. It’s human to be ‘pissed’. As long as being pissed isn’t something that makes you do something completely irrational, being pissed is a relatively normal human emotion. As long as you find ways of managing the stress of having ALL the work of raising kids thrown in your face, the tasks of doing this massive job will still feel like they’re occasionally strangling you (I can’t lie), but at least you have ways of ‘catching a break’ from time to time.
Remember too, that “this too shall pass”. Before you know it, they’ll be grown up with their own lives and their own places to live (Hallelujah!). Enjoy the time that you have with them right now, because it really does go quickly.