Okay, this isn’t a parenting blog, but raise your hand if you feel like a big fat failure in the ancient art of parenting?
If you didn’t immediately reach for the sky, let me save you some time—stop reading now. If you think you’re perfect and your child is excelling in every way possible, not only are you living in a fantasy world, but I’m definitely about to offend you with most of what I’m about to say.
However, if you’re like me, and you wake up every morning thinking, I’ve got this, but less than two hours later find yourself sitting in rush hour traffic fighting off tears because you just received an email (which you shouldn’t have read while driving, but you did) from your child’s teacher explaining her concern over your daughter’s recent angry outburst, then you completely understand why I called this post “The Shit Show.”
In your version of “The Shit Show,” the characters and set might be different, but I’m guessing the plot is generally the same. When we have kids we all start out with the best of intentions, but in total clumsy, slap-stick comedy style—we completely fuck things up. You can deny this if you want to, but sometimes I find it pretty cathartic to spill the raw and brutal truth.
Here’s the beginning to a typical episode of my Shit Show:
I wake up around 5:00 a.m., and after catching up with emails, the laundry or dishes I didn’t finish the night before, I attempt to throw myself together before I wake up The Demon (aka my beautiful daughter). This ritual usually consists of tickling her, kissing her and then finally steam rolling her in the bed until she’s so annoyed that she stomps down the hall, clearly pissed off. From there I carefully coax her into the shower, feed her a fairly-balanced breakfast (basically sugar-coated garbage), unsuccessfully attempt to convince her that school is totally fun and the cool kids don’t wear makeup, ask her six times to brush her teeth and ten times to get dressed until I lose my patience and raise my voice. This makes The Demon cry and she throws her backpack on the floor. I then argue with The Demon for ten more minutes, trip over the cat, pour some coffee, let the dog outside (if she hasn’t already given up on me and peed on the floor) and then proceed to spill the coffee I just poured on my white pants, which I then go back upstairs to change. From there I spend the three minute drive to school apologizing to The Demon (who is still crying) for raising my voice while explaining that we really need to work on being on time so I don’t get another letter from the principal with the warning of a truancy charge for continuing to be late. Then I pull up to the curb, give The Demon a kiss, tell her I love her and watch her walk (as slowly as possible) to the front door, which is already locked because the bell rang six minutes ago. Once she’s (finally) safely inside, I take a deep breath, answer four waiting text messages, pull away and begin the hour-long commute to a job that’s almost as demanding as The Demon is.
And, that’s what happens before the first commercial break of my Shit Show and, no, this is not the deleted scenes from Bad Moms—this is my life.
Now, before I get any farther, let me make this clear—I LOVE my daughter. But, parenting is hard. In fact, it’s really fucking hard. People try to tell you this when you make the decision to have kids. But, like all naïve soon-to-be parents, we try to convince ourselves that our kids will be different. They won’t be the rude, obnoxious diaper-toting vermin that we glare at in a restaurant when they’re screaming their heads off because their French fries are too hot, or the waitress gave them white instead of chocolate milk. And, nope, they’ll never be those kids that sleep in your bed every night and, of course, you’ll never fall asleep on a teeny-tiny toddler mattress and wake up at dawn with the worst backache ever while wearing the same sweatpants you’ve had on since you came home from work on Friday. We ALL convince ourselves that these things will never happen. And then comes the first episode of your new life. Though you’d never take it back, you suddenly begin to understand why your tired co-worker has white crusty stuff on her left shoulder now and then, but doesn’t seem to care.
The Shit Show is real life. It’s all the things we know we are, but we’re usually afraid to admit. Let’s face it, we’re all fuck ups when it comes to raising other humans. Most of us try really, really hard and somehow miraculously put forth some pretty awesome contributions to society who go on to do amazing things. But, sometimes, despite our best efforts to steer our children into who we think they should be, they simply become who they are. Like us, they aren’t perfect. Our kids make mistakes, get frustrated and don’t always make the best choices. But it’s our job as parents to love them anyway. So, instead of pushing them toward the illusion of perfection that we already know doesn’t exist, maybe sometimes we just need a reminder (like that dreaded email from the teacher) to slow down, listen and be the parents they need us to be. That’s hard, too. Finding balance while walking the tightrope of life isn’t easy. There are days when I somehow manage to dance across that tightrope, but most of the time I just fall straight into the pit of alligators who are just waiting for a taste of skinny-middle-aged white girl. Then I drag my chewed-up ass out of that pit, only to start over again the next day in the same ridiculous routine. Why? Because I’m a mom, and that’s my job. I’m not perfect, but as long as I keep my daughter off the pole (yes, I just said that), get her through college and stick around to spoil the shit out of my grandkids, I think I’ve earned the title of Executive Producer in her version of “The Shit Show,” don’t you think?
In all seriousness, hang in there, moms and dads, you’re doing a great job—and don’t be afraid to tell the exhausted, tightrope-walking star of “The Shit Show” next to you that he or she is doing a great job, too. We all need that now and then.
This one was LONG, and if you made it this far, THANK YOU for reading!