I’m going to start by saying that I adore my children.
I’m not going to pretend to be a perfect parent, or well-adjusted, or even right, when I write this. However, there’s been recent backlash against parents who have potty mouths, with various bloggers talking about how horrible we are to refer to our kids unfavorably. We are bad parents, and creating a negative space to raise our children in. Or something. In light of this, I feel that it’s necessary to defend my position as one of them.
You see, I write a blog called The Joy of Cooking (for Little Assholes).
Some of you may be laughing, reading that title. Chances are, you get it. You will probably nod and smile as you read this story. Those of you who are shaking your heads, or tut-tutting, are the ones I am directing this to, though.
Once upon a time, I was not-so-young and pregnant with my first child. I think, when you’ve lived a good part of your life already, you walk into parenthood with a lot of preconceptions and expectations of yourself. I had spent years educating myself about the toxins we put on, and in, our bodies, and I studiously avoided everything that might harm my unborn child. I had spent several years studying psychology, and had strong opinions about how to raise a child. I meditated. I practiced prenatal yoga. I was filled with hope and positivity.
Then, my little girl was born. And though we had a rough start, due to troubles breastfeeding and with weight gain, I was committed to an attachment style of parenting. We pulled it off, for several years, and she was the center of my universe. A smart, funny, adorable little girl, that my husband and I eventually decided would be our only child together.
Then I accidentally got pregnant.
My whole world tilted, as we struggled to come to terms with all that another child would mean. My plans of going back to university for my Doctorate were put on the back burner, and financial stress and other personal demons took over, I quickly fell into perinatal depression and anxiety. My ability to parent soon began to seem questionable to me, as I regularly huddled in the bathroom, trying to hide my tears from my daughter.
It was around then that my ideals of how to parent “well” began to unravel.
I had spent the first two years of my daughter’s life treating her like a delicate flower. I apologized to people when she misbehaved, saying she “normally wasn’t like this,” even though she was. She struggled emotionally with how to adjust to the new sibling who was growing inside of me. And I’m sure she was confused about why Mommy sometimes cried and was sad. Her behaviour became more and more challenging and, not for the first time, I felt like I was failing her as a parent.
Thankfully, I was referred into a special program for women battling hormonally-induced mood disorders. I began seeing several therapists, and once the baby was born, joined a postpartum support group. After months and months of feeling guilty, of feeling not good enough as a parent, I began to gain some much-needed perspective.
That perspective? My kids do not shit rainbows. And that is totally OK.
Let me be clear: When my threenager loses her mind because I offer her a fried egg for dinner and she says she wanted yolk, and I say sure, here’s the yolk, it’s part of the egg, and she says NO she wanted YOLK not EGG, and I say that yolk IS part of the egg, and she tells me that it ISN’T…I will roll my eyes to my husband and find a work-around, so that she thinks she’s getting her way. But after she’s in bed? I will say she was a bit of an asshole, as my husband and I laugh about it.
And my sweet little baby, who smiles and laughs so easily, who will happily amuse himself while I attend to my sometimes needy threenager? He turns into a monster in the middle of the night, when he’s teething. And the next morning, as I’m mainlining coffee, I will absolutely tell my husband that our adorable little man was a bit of an asshole the night before, because he decided to be up from 2:00-4:30am.
That’s the whole thing, for me. I need to be able to laugh at my kids, during these crazy-making moments. If I don’t, if I take it all very seriously and try and trouble-shoot the most meaningful and well-adjusted responses every single time, then I end up hating myself when I fail. And I fail a lot.
But being able to laugh about it all takes a tiny bit of the weight off my shoulders, of the responsibility of rearing children. It’s big, this responsibility. I know it. I’m not walking away from it. But I have the right to have a sense of humour about it, I think.
So that’s my motto. At some point or another, your child is going to be an asshole. You are not a bad parent for thinking this. You can still love your children to pieces, while thinking they are assholes, at that moment in time.
I’m done with being precious. I am embracing the imperfections, the accidental parenting, the meltdowns, the slammed doors, the asshole moments, when they come my way. I won’t judge you, if you choose not to embrace those moments, too. Maybe your way works better, for you.
But if you want to join my tribe, we can laugh together.
When I talked to my mother about writing this article, she said, “Wow, that’s interesting. But really, you’re just putting into words what most people are already thinking about their kids, at times.”
Which makes me think that I was a bit of an asshole, too, when I was a kid. Maybe I still am.
And I’m OK with that.