I Want to Give You Permission to Be Mad at Your Kids

There’s this form of mom bullying that’s impossible to be angry at. It’s the hug-your-kids-a-little-tighter-because-I-can’t one.

I’ve done an experiment over this past summer and fall. It’s less experiment and more postpartum hormones ripping my emotional armor off and then adding in sleep deprivation. I’ve been signing my way through hundreds of compassionate petitions and I’m on too many action-for-justice mailing lists. I’ve been reading the news, which is a terrible idea.

It’s bad out there.

School shootings, kids with cancer without access to experimental drugs, refugee families watching children die, boys being sexually abused.

I have boys. I look at them and think I would kill anyone who ripped their innocence away. I hug them a lot, praying that we can continue to give them the gift of a carefree childhood, that they will stay healthy, that they know how much we love them.

I’m constantly looking at my children and thinking about how grateful I am that they are simply here. I’m always asking them, “Do you know that I love you so, so much?” They say yes. Or more likely, K-Pants growls.

Living like this is breaking my heart.

There’s this pall of sadness that I’ve taken on from the world. And I need to untether myself from it for a bit. The sadness is always there, and I will always have access to it. Sometimes it will find us without us looking.

But I need permission to go on about living my daily life for a while. I need permission to get frustrated when my four-year-old whines all day. I need permission to feel overwhelmed and isolated spending my days with a baby. I need permission to acknowledge my blessings and then have a few bad days of parenting. The kind of days where other parents look at me and think that it all goes by too fast and is too precious and if only they could let that angry mom over there know what they know.

And if you need this permission, I want to give it to you, too.

Be mad. Get frustrated. Just do this day, in whatever way gets you through it. On balance, hopefully you’ll look back and feel like you were a good parent through the crap life threw at you. Hopefully your kids are here, and they are independent and kind. Hopefully you don’t stop moms in the grocery store and say, “That age was my favorite. I hope you’re savoring every moment, because it goes by so fast.”

But let’s be real, I’m totally going to stop parents in the grocery store. And I’m going to exhort them to enjoy every moment, and not let the little things bug them, because they just don’t matter. But for now, just do this day, be it terrible or wonderful. Don’t beat yourself up. I’d like to give you permission.

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10 responses to “I Want to Give You Permission to Be Mad at Your Kids

  1. Evelyn! Just this week I had an exchange with Bucks that went like this.
    Him: [Some ridiculous comment I can’t even recall]
    Me: [Sharp breath out of my nose]
    Him: “Oh, I hear your nose-breathing!”
    Me: “Yes, and surely you know by now how long it takes to go from nose-breathing to fire coming out of my eyes.”
    Him: “Oh, yeah”
    Me: “So why don’t you stop doing what you are doing?”
    Him: [with the sweetest devilish grin on his face] “I can’t help it.”

  2. You so often manage to bravely put into words what I long to, but daren’t. Bravo! I’m so grateful I can count you in my circle of sisterhood / mama friends. Love you!

  3. I think people say that it goes by fast because one day they wake up, their kids are gone, and they realize that it’s over. That all of the days of drudgery, or monotony, or wonder, are fully and irreversibly past, and that the children will never be theirs in the same way they were for 18+ years. I appreciate that.
    I think the challenge to all of us who don’t appreciate people telling us to savor every minute, is to remember what it was like so that we can be a new wave when we are the older generation. We can be the wave that sees the angry mom in the grocery stores and says “Oh I remember those days! They were hard. You’re doing a good job. Can I help you unload those groceries while you deal with that meltdown?”

    • Thank you for this. It’s like a mini blog post. I really like what you said about those long days being irreversibly past. I will be very, very sad. And I’ll give everything a rainbow haze. 🙂

  4. Ditto. I too will be very, very sad when I come home to an empty house, exhale to myself and say “that’s a wrap!” And in retrospect, I’ll remember the raucous laughter, the fun, and even the struggles will seem implausibly beautiful. And I’ll wish there were a way I could magically time travel to myself as a young mother and say “soak it all in. soak it into your bones.” But I hope I’ll be wise enough to know how impossible that would have been.

  5. Grace and parenting, inseparable! Give grace but don’t forget to take some for yourself! Loved this, thank you!

  6. I just found your blog! Such a great post and glad to know I’m not the only one who feels this way! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Being a mom is hard. Loving the children that are here with us and those that have their angel wings is hard.

    There is benefit in our children seeing us become exasperated. They see us calm down and work our way through our frustrations. It is a demonstration in coping. We need to teach those skills to our children.

    Allowing ourselves to be perfectly human is our right as imperfect beings. Thank you for the grace provided in your words.

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