“My toddler’s cup skipped across the floor, spraying juice everywhere. I then looked over to find poop oozing out of my baby’s onesie. It was 11:00 a.m. and I still hadn’t found time to eat breakfast or have coffee. My toddler started screaming out, ‘Mommy! Mommy!’ while my baby shrieked. I felt frustrated and angry, so I ran to the bathroom, shut the door, and tried to calm myself down.
As I whisper-yelled my frustrations so the kids couldn’t hear, the phrase, ‘Enjoy every second because it goes by so fast’ echoed in my head. But what if I wasn’t enjoying EVERY second? Was I being selfish and petty? I felt shame at being ungrateful for the privilege of being a mom.
As I sat wallowing in the bathroom, I knew I was lucky. Many people would move mountains to have two healthy, thriving kids as I did. What was my problem? Was cleaning spilled juice off the floor really that big of a deal? I told myself to get over it, bottled up my frustrations, plastered a fake smile on my face, and left the bathroom to tend to my toddler and my baby.
As a parent, I often bottle up my feelings out of a guilt-ridden obligation to stay in a grateful place. I feel like I have chosen to be a parent, and I should feel nothing but grateful and blessed. I have no ‘real’ reason to complain. And while I think gratitude should be a driving force in my life, I have recently learned complaining about the small stuff doesn’t mean I’ve lost appreciation for everything positive in my life. Furthermore, I actually do myself a disservice when I don’t give a voice to my hardships.
When I bottle up my frustrations, they don’t magically disappear. They build up until I finally snap and lose it over something small. In recent months I have learned to let myself feel occasionally dissatisfied or annoyed at the everyday challenges of being a parent. I have given myself permission to express those feelings to my husband, my mom, or a friend without feeling guilty.
Since I started voicing my challenges more (let’s be honest, I still bottle it up a lot of the time) I have learned it instantly calms me down. It helps me move through those negative feelings quickly so I can get back to a place of feeling genuinely grateful and happy as a mom. It gives me perspective and helps me to feel supported and heard. I don’t let complaining dominate my life, but I find I need to give a voice to my hardships, however shallow they may seem, so I can calm those negative feelings.
Parenting is both the greatest blessing I have ever known and the greatest challenge I have ever known. So, it makes sense I can feel grateful while also feeling like I am going to burst with frustration.
I am a happier mom now that I let myself live in this paradox, experiencing gratitude while sometimes complaining. I can be grateful to nuzzle my baby in the middle of the night AND frustrated with being awake for the third time that night. I can be grateful to watch my kids giggle while making a mess at the dinner table AND wish I could occasionally eat one meal alone. I can appreciate being able to nurse my baby AND complain that I never get to leave the house for more than two hours at a time. I can appreciate having a healthy pregnancy AND lament that I have so much nausea I haven’t eaten anything but bread and cookies in weeks.
To be clear, I know I won the lottery. I have two healthy kids whose needs are met. They are loved and safe. I have recently had friends face major challenges like infertility, pediatric cancer, and losing their home. I feel grateful for my life each day with every fiber of my being. But I am human (and really tired). I struggle and get annoyed, and that is OKAY.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Latched Mama. It originally appeared here, on their blog. You can follow their journey on Facebook, Instagram, and their website. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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