Last night, a good friend texted, “I hate everything and everyone.”
We aren’t in regular contact, but we trade messages when we’ve reached the ends of our ropes. She has a 5-year-old and a 9-month-old.
She continued, “Am I a bad parent if I want to give my children away? The oldest one does not stop whining. Ever. And the youngest doesn’t stop crying. I may have to commit myself.”
I responded, “Yes. You’re a bad parent. And you’re on the bad parent bus with me as the driver. And let’s face it – do you really wanna be on a ‘good parenting’ bus with someone who can’t say a bad thing about their kids?”
Her husband was home watching TV with their older son, the baby was in the crib (crying). I told her “Go scream into a pillow. Go outside and lie on the sidewalk and stare at the sky. Go. You have the right. Have a drink. You’ve earned it.”
Then texting felt silly and I called her and said, “Vent. Vent away.”
“I’m so sick of it,” she unloaded. “And I know we just have to get through this stage and things will be easier when the baby’s a year old and I’d just forgotten how tough it can be but the older one is just so whiny all the goddamn time and I feel like I’m short-changing both of them, and…”
I listened and thought, “Wow. I remember everything she’s talking about, and I think I’m on the other side.”
We laughed and I talked about my coping mechanisms: blogging, self-flagellation, and…I admit…an occasional cigarette – it just felt so good to do something so bad for a few solitary minutes after kids went to bed. (And after 4 puffs I felt nauseous, anyway. No fear of addiction, here.)
While talking with my friend, I was astounded that, for once, I was the listener instead of the venter (despite the fact that sometimes I wake up in the morning calculating the minutes until bedtime.) I even had the cliché thought: “It was so hard, but I can’t even remember why. It’s a blur.”
Oh, but then I did remember something specific: #tearlesscrying. That encompassed 18 months of hell, for me.
She went on, “I know it’ll get easier soon.”
All I could think was: “If by ‘soon’ you mean 18 months, then…yes. It will get better soon.”
She’s just about to enter the age where my youngest grew into “dear-lord-when-will-the-whining-agony-end-did-I-kick-a-puppy-in-a-prior-life-to-merit-this?” hell.
I know…the difficulty isn’t over for me. But the irrationality of non-communicative toddlerhood is over. And talking to my friend, I had the realization that…I might actually be on the other side.
Things do get (slightly) easier…just like people told me a year ago…and just like I said to my friend on the phone, “It’s funny. Of all our friends, you’re the closest ‘behind’ me on the path…so I get it. Call and vent to me any time. It’s still fresh in my mind.”
“I know. Thanks. I will. I know it’ll all get better, soon.”
No, it won’t. Hee-hee.
Parenting is (slightly) more manageable, now. It’s still herding cats and repeating myself 17 times, and negotiating with an irrational (manipulative, stubborn, irascible, adorable) 2 ½ year old.
It’s still rolling my eyes and losing my temper when “no” results in immediate histrionics from my 4-year-old.
It’s still lost sleep and crying over a damn pacifier…(toddler tears, not daddy’s.)
But it is easier, now.
I dreamed this day would come, but reality hit me when I was the listener, not the venter…when I heard someone else lament their asshole baby and I respond, “I know. I get it. I’ve been there. I don’t know how I got through it. But you will, too.”
The view is different from this side.
And the future still looks daunting.
I think I’ll go have a drink. I’m earning it.