By: Sarah Normandin – Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.
9 am. It was the hardest part of my day every day after I became a mother. My husband and I would joke and call it suicide hour, but it was no joke; I was really struggling. The whole day would stretch out before me and I had no idea how I would make it through; all of my very scant resources had already been spent. My cup was empty, and there was no one else to fill it up. I was fantasizing about bedtime before lunch, feeling the anticipation of every need, every ask, every interruption of my own mental rhythm.
Even today, when I’m no longer caring for an infant, the early mornings, especially on the weekend, feel supernaturally overwhelming. This is the time of day you are most likely to find me crying, self-indulgently, into my coffee cup. I try not to take it all too seriously, but it’s a challenge not to engage in self-pity when you’re being forced to play the eighth round of UNO before 6am. People may suggest a parenting book, a wake-up light, a lobotomy. I want you to know that I’ve tried them all (aside from the lobotomy) and I can promise you that this is not what I’m asking for here. I just want us all to be a little more honest about what parenting can really be like.
You see, it may make me a bad mother, but I can’t get around the fact that I don’t have much time for myself anymore. That one silent cup of coffee, the ability to get lost in my own thoughts. I long for some good old fashioned leisure–a whole day in bed with Netflix, grocery shopping whenever I want, having nothing to do in the evening after work.
I was recently talking to another mom at a birthday party, discussing the cluster fuck that is Saturday morning. She reminded me that we always expect to relax on the weekends and that days with children just aren’t that relaxing. No newspapers, books and magazines, read lazily over breakfast. No restful vacations or meals out or walks in nature. Doing all of these things with children just isn’t the same and yet somehow, my mind always expects that maybe this time will be different.
Why is this so hard for me? Surely, so many other parents are much worse off than I. I must be an inferior human. I feel like I’m always getting it wrong, that I’m always two steps behind. Some might say that my expectations are too high. An experienced parent might point out that most of these feelings are normal, that parenting is hard, that I’m doing just fine. And maybe I am, but it never feels that way. I’m not patting myself on the back for getting a real dinner on the table three times a week, or for not yelling when I get woken up in the middle of the night for the zillionth time.
In the throes of “suicide hour” I’m worried that my kid isn’t getting enough healthy food, that he has too much screen time, that I’m not always loving enough. I worry that I’ve gotten angry too many times, have given him an anxiety disorder, made him too reliant on me, not connected with him enough, focused too much on his behavior in front of others. I’m clearly not as present as I should be, and yet I’d like to check out a lot more.
I could go on forever about how much I probably have already screwed up. The list just keeps getting longer every day. But I know that this circular logic about how I need more and am not doing enough, isn’t productive, or even helpful. The truth is, we all need more. The bar is too high and the refreshments are few and far between. Parenting is the best of times and the worst of times. The highs can be ecstasy and the lows are some of the worst days I’ve had in my life. Most parents are essentially in the same boat and I’m no different or even special. In fact, at least I have enough headspace to even reflect on this–don’t worry, the irony is not lost on me. So instead of ranking my insecurities one more time and wishing for things to be different, I’ll be doing what any good mother would do at 5:41 am — I’ll get out the UNO cards and suggest another round.
Sarah is a therapist and coach who has been supporting women for over 12 years in creating lives that align with their own values. As a mother and a wife, she understands the complexity of modern life and how to manage stress while juggling many responsibilities. She believes in having fun, taking naps and saying no as often as possible. If you’re interested in exploring motherhood, imperfection and doing less to have more–or just want someone to tell you to take a break, you can find her at sarahnormandin.com.
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