You love your kids. You are devoted, you work hard, you want them to have what you missed as a kid. You want them to have more, to know how loved and important they are.
Those things are true on days when you feel happy, loving it all. And it’s also true on days or weeks or months where you feel unfulfilled, lonely, stressed or boxed in.
Other feelings you might have about parenting but are afraid to admit it to yourself:
This is some deep shit. Those aren’t fuzzy feelings. One of the greatest dangers we face as parents is denying how we feel about parenting. If we only allow ourselves one feeling: “I love being a parent,” we suppress much of our daily experience. Squashing feelings down creates anxiety, depression, and physical imbalance.
Let’s just assume and know that the love is always there underneath whatever we are feeling day to day. If you are frustrated because your child just did something dangerous or reckless and you want to shout and swear at them but know that you can’t, where does that fear and frustration go? Your body holds onto it for you and is ready at any moment for you to acknowledge that it’s there, and find a way to release it through exercise, art, movement, breath, journaling, or whatever works for you to see yourself and acknowledge your experience. Just as we teach our kids, we need to recognize all the feelings, even the unfuzzy ones.
When I interviewed my mom about her birthing and postpartum experience, she shared that she went through a low postpartum period where she remembers rocking her baby back and forth saying to herself, “I love being a mom, I love being a mom,” scared by the words because she couldn’t quite feel them and she wanted to convince herself of their truth.
She knew there was love there somewhere, but what she was feeling in that moment was scared and sad.
Whatever feelings we go through about parenting, the love is always underneath. But if we don’t allow ourselves to feel the frustrations, anger, sadness, disbelief, fear, and helplessness that often come with raising kids, those feelings will keep asking to be seen until they are seen, so they can be released.
There are things I love about being a mom and things that are hard. Really hard. I sometimes feel resentful or sick to death of getting up early or burnt out on caregiving. Honoring myself through these feelings can help me access the joy and love underneath. It doesn’t have to be either/or. I love my kids and I feel tired. I love my kids and I feel sick of the tantrums. I love my kids and I feel angry they won’t eat the dinner I cooked.
Parenting is a long road, a forever road. To be well on the journey, we can be who we are and we can feel how we feel.