What Parenting is Sometimes Like: Bumper Cars edition

I don’t want to have a Mom Blog. I don’t know if I do, I feel like it’s sort of turning out that way and it’s not my intention. I don’t know what it says about me that I write to reconnect with myself, and all I write about are my kids and how we burn cookies together. Maybe there is something deeper in there, but I fear it’s just cheap pans and a tendency to get caught fishing raisins out of ponytails and forget the timer.

I had a total breakdown in my car last night at the grocery store. Thankfully this was after shopping and not before I went in, because I don’t cry pretty and my face takes several hours to calm down from the red blotchies. I’d explain all of it but if you’re a parent, you’ve been there and done that and don’t need a highlight reel. If you’re not a parent you’re going to think I’m exaggerating.

When I read Eat, Pray, Love I was mesmerized. At the time I was single and childless and it spoke to me in a much different way than it does now. I recently read it again and was struck by Liz Gilbert’s description of getting a divorce as “having a really bad car accident every single day” because guiltily, I feel that way about parenting. Not a major car accident but more like twenty five or so fender benders every week.

After awhile you get used to them and just accept being rear-ended as a part of driving. These startling, frustrating and time consuming “accidents” define your day and the rest of the driving that you’re trying to do becomes secondary. Every once in a while, you freak out and start crying and going, “What the FUCK. Why does this keep happening to me? I am just trying to drive here, can’t I have one single ride without someone plowing into me? I’m tired of being on edge, I’m tired of being hyper vigilant I just want to drive to where I’m going without getting hit by another fucking car!! Why does everyone else seem to be fine with this? Is everyone else better at handling car accidents than I am? Am I supposed to be happy about this, or not care about it?”

So after this week, in which I was informed that I am not getting the promotion that I’ve been promised and working towards for almost a year, I am not getting a merit increase or a bonus, the brakes in my car gave out (that’s a real one, not another car metaphor), a late night ER visit to Children’s Hospital with my one-year-old, a three-year-old who kicked me, was sent to time out and proceeded to SHIT ALL OVER HIS ROOM just to spite me, my baby almost strangling herself in the window blind cord and finally a disastrous set of events at the grocery store, where my kid knocked a juice bottle off the shelf and smashed it to pieces, threw a stuffed monkey in someone’s surprised and angry face, climbed in the basket of a motorized scooter, and ran out of the checkout line to the parking lot with me chasing after him no less than eight times in the span of ten minutes, I was done. Cue the floodgates, I’m doing the Ugly Cry in the grocery store parking lot.

I was done getting rear-ended and being expected to be fine with it. It’s not normal to have things happen to you that give you a motherfucking heart attack and just shrug it off. Yes I know all of this is developmentally appropriate and it’s fine and in the grand scheme of things, holy shit I am lucky to have kids that are able bodied and inquisitive and in perfect health. I know this. But…can’t I just have one day without cleaning shit off the walls? One day where nobody chokes or falls off a couch or stands on the laptop or takes my phone off “mute” and screams about the Wheels on the Bus while I am on a conference call with over one hundred colleagues? Is everyone else handling this better than me?

I titled this post What Parenting is Sometimes Like because I feel like I am going to have so much more to say on this topic as the days go by. Sometimes parenting is like a baseball game, sometimes it’s like a war, sometimes it’s like being stuck against a wall by centrifugal force on the Turkish Twist where you can’t remember why you ever got on the ride in the first place and you can’t get off no matter how hard you try. Right now it’s feeling like bumper cars. Small things that are much too fast for their size are aiming for you, either you are going to laugh and chase them back or you are going to end up crying with your face in your hands while your ice cream melts.

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