Parenting: Better You Than Me?

There is some sort of line I seem to have crossed after having three kids into some type of strange martyrdom. Or self-immolation? Sainthood? Maybe it is just this place we live in, but it seems like a BIG deal to have more kids than parents in a household.  Add to the fact that one of my kids (gasp) has Down syndrome, and jeepers creepers.  And I stay at home?  No job, no break from the kids?  Sainthood, halo, superhero cape, all of it.  It.  Is.  On.

In the past week, there has not been a single day in which a stranger has not made some sort of comment to me about being a stay-at-home-mom with three young kids.  Sometimes, there’s a long pause while they study LP’s face, and when that happens, the praise is laid on that much more.  People keep exclaiming how wonderful I am, or how I have my hands full, or telling me some sort of grueling story about her brother-in-law’s cousin who has four kids and just looks so tired, I’m so patient, so this, so that.  The comments are meant to be complimentary, but feel backhanded.  (Note to world: Puuuleeze don’t tell a mother how hard her job looks while her kids stand by and listen.  That is a totally messed up message to give a kid.)  As kind as I understand they mean to be, they sure as heck don’t seem to want to trade places with me.

Since when did my life become the Thing-That-Is-Impossibly-Hard, footnoted by Better-You-Than-Me?

Don’t get me wrong.  When Chipmunk is crying for the 97th time that day because she asked for help getting on her shoes, then I helped her, but I wasn’t supposed to actually help her, yes, I feel like burning her shoes and never giving her choices ever again.  When LP decides thirteen minutes of nap time from 9:24 am to 9:37 am were just fine to get him through the day, yes, I feel a twinge of desperation and do consider baby tranquilizers (I’m supposed to say “just kidding” here, right?).  When Mouse velcros herself to me so hard that her constant tugging on my yoga pants (the only thing I wear anymore) pulls them down my once-quite-firm-but-now-something-else-ass and shows everyone my underwear, yes, I have yelled at her (so call Child Protective Services, why don’t you).  Being home with the kids is hard, and I do imagine that it might be easier to drink coffee in a cubicle all day while I get to talk to rational adults.

The grass is always greener, though.  My husband comes home and tells me about the umpteenth time in a row that he gets stuck standing next to the farting asshole (literally) on the train, and that his ass and head hurt from sitting in a chair and looking at a screen for eight hours straight, how he misses his babies, the two-day old fish in the microwave at work from the guy who never cleans up after himself, wondering why the office assistant refuses to use the collator and tries to hand staple everything… Well, I think you get the point.  In his moments of frustration, he fantasizes about building sand castles and never-ending story time.

The truth is, adults aren’t actually that much more rational than children, they’re just more sophisticated, coffee addiction isn’t good for your body, sandboxes are often gross and story time ends up in an argument half the time.

There are frustrating things about every person’s life, that’s just the nature of living.  Most of them are not that bad in the grand scheme of things.  Being a stay-at-home parent or having more than two kids isn’t for everyone but that doesn’t mean that there’s something about raising kids at home that is unbearably hard.  It may just not be a good match for some people, and if they have choices, then great.

Yes, my days are full, and sometimes I lose perspective, but who doesn’t do that?   Oh, but you are a special needs parent.  Well, sure, there are some extra appointments and I spend a lot of time worrying about LP being accepted, but our day-to-day life is mind-numbingly average, actually.  Some special needs parents have some very serious medical conditions to manage, that is true.  It isn’t for me to judge how hard their lives are, and I’d challenge anyone to find a parent who would trade places into a different life.  Hearing someone else evaluate the level of difficulty of a person’s life from the outside risks too much pity, and who wants pity?

I’m neglecting my kids to write this.  Chipmunk is crying in her room because she has to wear pants (no clean dresses).  I’ve given up trying to console her—it just makes it worse.  Mouse is reading LP a book but it has turned into a boss-a-thon, and LP is ignoring her, trying his hardest to disassemble his diaper.  I have no cape, no halo, no wings.  I’m just a mama who loves her kids and wants to vent sometimes.  My life can get hard sometimes but all life is hard.  Is my life harder than the average person?  All I can say is that my life does seem pretty average on the whole.

We’re happy.  Come join us.  We’d love to have you over for dinner (if you’ll accept pb&j and eggs, because that’s all we have to eat in the house).

Diaper secured, boss-a-thon temporarily halted.  Mourning over lack of dress in the other room, continuing.

Diaper secured, boss-a-thon temporarily halted. Mourning over lack of dress in the other room, continuing.

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18 Comments on “Parenting: Better You Than Me?”

  1. Lisa says:

    Yeah, I don’t know . . . I think people say all kinds of stupid things because they just don’t know what to say. Sometimes the “You have your hands full!” comment bugs the crap out of me, and sometimes, I’m like, “Yes, I do – thank you for acknowledging that.”

    What irritates me more than anything are the comments like, “You guys know what causes that, right?” and “You’re done, right?” (We’ve been getting that one since I was pregnant with the twins.) Since when are my birth control choices anyone else’s business? Michael likes to respond with, “What’s the right number of kids to have again? I keep forgetting . . .”

    • jisun says:

      Haha, I like Michael’s response, I must use that!

      I’ve gotten the “you have your hands full” delivered in a pity-free factual manner, but then I’ve had it given to me in that “wow you’re life looks crappy” kind of way. Lately with the three kids, more the latter. Does it get proportionally worse with more kids??

      • Lisa says:

        Are you kidding me? Yes, of course it does!

        Of course, I like to casually drop the fact that I have seven kids because I actually enjoy the look of shock on people’s faces ;)

  2. Galit says:

    With my 5 kids, I get all that a-plenty…. although my oldest is in college now, so I’m practically empty-nesting with just 4.

    I actually went back and forth between working and SAHMing, since my kids are 19, 14, 13, 5, and 3.5, so I had big gaps between baby sets. I much prefer being home with them, and I am so glad that we are not dependent on a second income. So when people ask me. If I don’t want to “go back to work in the real world” I am pretty sure the answer is No. And I actually spend much more time doing exactly what I want when I am scheduling it around my kids than if I was scheduling it around a 9-5 job.

    • jisun says:

      Yes, choice is definitely a luxury that a lot of people don’t have. We made a real financial commitment when I stayed home and that part hasn’t been easy, and I know many families don’t have that choice at all. But the “real world” idea doesn’t feel good when I hear it. Aren’t my children real?

  3. ajummama says:

    hey girl, i am behind…on everything. we just got back from a real vacation, not just back home to Ehr-Ray (LA). am not even rejuvenated though because while it was fun to swim around with the kids and eat papaya daily, it was not relaxing, especially the sleeping arrangements.

    i’ve had ppl say, “oh, *i* could NEVER be a stay-at-home mama,” as a “compliment” and then they go off to say how THEY need intellectual stimulation as if I am perfectly content sitting around with my brain rusting. One older neighbor was going on and on about her lawyer son and I casually slipped in, after two years of greeting her, that I, too, am an attorney but at home with my kids indefinitely. She looked at me with wild eyes like she thought alls I ever was from the jump was an at-home mama wearing clearance GAP mumus with boogers on the shoulder and grey sideburn straggles, perpetually sweaty. i was just about to ask you how you blog so beautifully so regularly but you answered here today. since august, we haven’t been able to sleep through the night again with micah screaming in the middle of the night and ellis just joining me in bed to nurse and play with my boobs. and oh, the whining during the day – i sometimes think a nanny would put him in check since he noonchee-bahs and would come correct to please a stranger.

    when i see folks with more children than me, doing a great job during the moments i see them out, i AM guilty of putting y’all on a pedestal and thinking y’all must not have my moments and temper tantrums and losing perspective especially when ppl have directly told me what a WASTE – my staying at home. and i ain’t even good at it (disciplining, cooking, cleaning, not sighing so much)…so sometimes i do wonder. hoping to crank out a post asap as i have lots on my mind. another great post…”better you than me” hahaha

    i been so cranky lately that when i see ppl on my Newsfeed about too much sleep or too much time on they hands, i get ALL mad. peace.

    • jisun says:

      Girl, I firmly believe that children are their worst and best for their mamas. You could get a nanny, he’d act like an angel and save up all the tantrums for the minute you walked in the door. There’s no escaping that!

      I dunno, why is there this idea of being a good mom equaling a set of criteria, that seems so screwed up to me. I mean, so if your kids aren’t perfectly behaved, you don’t make organic meals from scratch, you don’t have amazing craft sessions and a sparkling clean house, you can’t be a good mom? I know people who do all those things but go around the world looking very unhappy, so are they “good” parents?

      I hate that “wasted intellect” stuff too. I could spend my brain power raising my children to be good, kind, happy citizens of the world, or spend it earning money. It just doesn’t seem like a waste to me at all. Meh.

  4. Maya says:

    “When Chipmunk is crying for the 97th time that day because she asked for help getting on her shoes, then I helped her, but I wasn’t supposed to actually help her”…Amazing! Assuming you have seen this – http://www.reasonsmysoniscrying.com/

    • jisun says:

      No, I’ve since learned that I’m the only one in the entire world who didn’t see that! I rely on you guys for all my internet funnies, I clearly am not savvy enough to find them for myself…

  5. this was insightful post. i don’t have kids, so i don’t really know what it’s like for a SAHM. what response other than the ones you mentioned above, would be more understanding and empathetic? i admit that i have said some of the above things, and not meant as a ‘backhanded’ type of response, but more so, because i don’t understand, and i imagine that being mom IS hard.

    • jisun says:

      I’ve been thinking about this, it isn’t that I’m walking around being offended all day, every day. I think for me, it would be simply asking. Like, “They day parenthood is the hardest thing to do, is it?” Or… “That looks hard, is it?” That way you’re offering your interpretation but leaving room for the other person to agree or disagree. There are for sure days that I agree with those compliments because they’re delivered without any of that subtle connotation. Then again, there’s always the “you have beautiful children” option. That one seldom fails! Of course, this is just me, and my little vent. ;)

  6. vandeblogger says:

    This is SO right on. People assume having Daniel makes my life SO much harder when really? It’s life with 3 kids. Honestly I think my sisters (one has 3 kids one has 4) have it just as hard as I do.

    • jisun says:

      Do you kind of feel like having three kids means you can have ten? At some point, stuff just gets busy as all heck, why get caught up in the details of why, you know? Throw some Down syndrome in there, sure! No biggie. (Meant to be taken with a huge grain of salt, as she types at 2am while obsessively googling something Down syndrome related…)


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