When I first became a mother, a friend asked me, “What’s it like?”

All that came out were tears. Many, many tears.

“What’s it like?”  A seemingly innocent question, which in all actuality, is the most overwhelming thing you can ever ask a parent, especially a new mom.

Becoming a parent, and the experience of raising a child, embodies every single feeling you could ever imagine and multiplies it by 100.  Then it adds a million other feelings that you never even knew existed.  And I’m not only talking about the positive feelings. You know the good ones: love, pride, dedication, joy… we all know we love our children more than anything.  We all  love to share the joy of watching our little pack of wild creatures grow.  We love to talk about the pride we feel in relation to our children and their accomplishments…blah blah blah.

But what about the bad stuff?  What about the ugly feelings?

When I say becoming a parent embodies and amplifies every feeling, I mean every feeling:  sadness, anger, worry, frustration, loneliness, powerlessness, rage, guilt.  These feelings sometimes overpower the true happiness that was borne out of becoming a parent, yet we don’t talk about them so much.  We save them for the nights that we lie in bed and cry, or lie in bed and eat a massive Mixed Italian Sub with extra mayo and pickles because we feel so guilty about the way we yelled at our kids that day.  (Yes, I’ve done that.  More than once.  More than 5 times.  Okay, okay, I did it last night.)

Recently, I ran into an old friend from elementary school, who is a new mom to a beautiful little dude.   Silly me, I asked her “How’s it going?”

I know, I know. What the heck was I thinking?

Despite my faux pas, we proceeded to have a refreshingly honest conversation about parenting.   We talked about how amazing it was, of course. But we also talked about how she was lonely at times and how hard it was to be up all night and how it’s a struggle to figure things out.  At the end she apologized for being a “Gloomy Gus.”  The notion that she needed to apologize for being honest about motherhood reminded me that we really need to talk about the bad feelings that come with this job more often.

Maybe if we all talked about the tough stuff, it wouldn’t seem so tough?  Maybe we would remember that we are all human and we all have flaws that we struggle with when it comes to raising other humans. Yes, our kids are humans too, despite my theory that they came from an alien planet inhabited by creatures who only speak in beeps, growls, and fake farting noises.

I’ll start the sharing with one of my many tough parenting times:  I find it incredibly difficult to be nice to my children at their bedtime.  I know it is important to give them a peaceful send off into dreamland, but more often than not, I just can’t do it.  I’m impatient, I yell,  and I don’t laugh at the cute dances they do while putting on their PJs. Overall, I feel frustrated.  Then as soon as they are asleep, I go back in, look at their serene faces and promise myself I’ll do better tomorrow. At this point I typically feel a combination of overwhelming love and guilt.  You know, a typical Friday night in the life of a parent.

What’s your parenting tough stuff?  What are the times that amplify your “bad feelings?”

Next week:  A fun way to help let the trials and tribulations roll off your back…