I Struggle with Parenting

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Mommy Shamers unite! I’m about to speak some truth that will make your toes curl: Sometimes, I don’t want to be a parent. There…I said it. Do I feel good about it? No. I’m honest with myself and others about how I feel. It allows me to take a true assessment of what’s going on in my life. My bold statement, as I drift into introspection, is less about my children and more about me. Parenting is such a struggle for me lately.

Because I wasn’t taught about relationships when I was young, I let life happen to me instead of being assertive in figuring out my future. Not surprisingly, I found out I was going to be a mother soon after joining the military. At 20 years old, I had my first child and by 33, I had my fourth and final baby.

So many years have passed now. My eldest is nearly 25 and my second eldest is college-bound in the fall. My younger two are full-fledged teenagers. This leaves me wondering, Why does parenting feel harder now than it ever has?

My eldest is a young woman living on her own. I miss her terribly. When she lived at home, we were much closer emotionally. Seven years into her independent-living, I realize that she doesn’t really need me any more. This hurts. Now my second eldest is getting ready to leave home as well, and I see the same independent spirit in her that I do in my eldest.

What worries me most is feeling that my work with them is done so my time them is done. It is hard transitioning as a parent from one who is highly involved in their children’s decision-making, to being relegated to some dark corner in their peripheral vision when they turn into adults. Maybe this will not be my experience with all of my children?

I’m writing this article, trying to think deeply about why I sometimes don’t want to be a parent. I realize now that I struggle with the idea of not really feeling like a parent when they’re grown and have left home. Sure, it will be nice when they’ve all left home in some ways: my things will never magically run out without my awareness beforehand, items that I leave in a spot will be there when I return for them and food I am craving will be in the cupboards and not digested by someone else in the house.

Of course, I want to be proud of them and I couldn’t do that if they were needy, helpless adults. Maybe my struggle is about finally having to figure out who am, something I couldn’t make time for when I was a young mother with a large brood.

In the last hour as I’ve been writing this, all three of my children have approached me. One offered to make me tea, the other smiled and gave me a big hug when she returned home from school, and the last made me laugh by saying something clever. Yes, I do struggle with parenting, but I think it’s because I’m still growing up, too. I love them so much and can’t imagine how stagnant my life would be without them in it.

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