Oftentimes, I feel like I’m not doing enough. Enough as a parent. Enough as a writer. Enough as a person in general. I find myself standing on a precipice I created myself, ready to jump, because no matter what I do it never feels enough.
The truth of the matter is I actually do a lot. When I am not busy psyching myself out, you can find me juggling a fifty-hour work week and providing primary care to my children. Four days a week, I am the one getting the boys off to school. I put snacks in their backpacks and kisses on their cheek. We spend fifteen minutes before school playing outside together, before the bus comes and picks them up. I turn my focus to the youngest, setting him up for the day with snacks, shows and affection. We then spend our day together, fighting over how many pieces of chocolate are too many and whether he gets the remote or I do.
I sneak naps here and there, hoping my son is occupied enough with Curious George to not suddenly get curious about the workings of the stove. Or learn how to open the front door and go real life Dora the Exploring. And, I write.
Sometimes it feels like I do a ton writing and no publishing. Last week, I wrote four essays in a half-awake, sleep-deprived fury but never hit publish. Why? Well, I don’t know. Sometimes you go through your newsfeed and see enough sadness, self-doubt and self-criticism, you don’t want to add to it. I am a firm believer in negative energy and try my best not to add to it. Or, like last week, I find myself writing something along the lines of, “Well, it doesn’t matter who you’re voting for because we might as well be choosing between breaking our arms or breaking our legs.” Aside from the sad posts and cynical political points of view, I have been working diligently on a submission I am too nervous to submit. I have been published, and paid, for my writing, yet still get fixated on all the rejections I received along the way.
I suspect a lot of us parents go through the feelings that we simply aren’t doing enough. It’s hard. Cue the child-less person in the random comment section who is sick of the parents going ‘boo hoo’ over how hard it is. But, as much joy as parenting brings, there is no denying it can be a bumpy road. It’s pretty easy to judge parenting when your only claim to nurturing is a cat you only have to feed cans of food to once a day. When I, or any other parent for that matter, feels stretched out and not enough, there is always someone there more than happy to move their dog from the keyboard just to write ‘suck it up’, before not having to worry about bills, the cost of next week’s field trip or the fact their child innocently spilled a gallon of milk trying to display their independence.
Sometimes I feel like I’m not enough. And, in addition to that, after being awake over 24 hours because I choose to keep my kids home as long as possible instead of placing them in daycare, I want to bitch. It isn’t an attack on anyone else and it certainly isn’t a look-at-me-I-have-it-worse-than-you gripe. One thing writing has taught me is to be reflective, not sanctimonious. Whether it’s one child or eight like my friend J decided to do to her vagina, we all made some sort of promise to expend infinite amounts of love and affection on these offspring of ours. Parents of a single child might not understand the difficulties of trying to cattle-wrangle three boys and put their underwear on them the correct way, that doesn’t mean they don’t spend just as much of their day devoted to their child.
You don’t have to be a writer to be understanding, but you do have to be understanding to be a parent. Far too often we aren’t understanding, and it’s sad. We are quick to condemn the parents of the child who has his shirt on inside out, without understanding how proud that child was to put his shirt on all by himself. He will learn to put it on right side out, but I dare not take his pride from him in this moment. Besides, by wearing it inside out, he gets another wear out of it. It’s like two wears for the price of one. And I think it’s trendy.
I try to offer a unique insight into my life, whether it be my child deciding the best seat in the house is in my pulled down pants while I use the porcelain or if it is the days I drag my tired butt to the coffee machine so I can get the kids off to school. I once posted a photo of my children crying at Easter with the caption “Happy Easter from the Underwood family.” I, along with a few hundred folks found the photo to be cute. Another person shared it with the comment “I hope when this guy gets put in a retirement home, his children take a photo of him crying.” while insinuating the photo be a form of abuse that would require my children to seek out therapy. I am twenty-five, should I just start looking at my own retirement plan to keep on the safe side?
These types of comments don’t phase me. I see them regularly enough. Someone will always be critical of you as a parent and I have decided to raise my children very publicly. It comes with the territory. But fuck, when they said it takes a village to raise a child, I didn’t know they would allow the village idiots to participate in the child-rearing.
I don’t feel like I have enough of me to give some days. I curse the minuscule twenty-four hours I have in a day to work and then care for my kids. Writing is a luxury to my sanity in times like these. My page, an oasis in the busy day to day, keeping me sane. When I feel not enough, I turn to here. Regardless of the occasional certified keyboard warriors, these are my people. You, if you’ve read this far, are my people.