I think the hardest thing for me to get used to as a parent is the anger that I sometimes feel towards my wife and my kids. It's not that I walk around constantly in a fug of rage and spite, it's that my sanity has been worn away from lack of sleep and the unceasing responsibility of responding to and taking care of two small children.
For example, nine times out of then when William puts his hand on Raley's back, and we say "No, William, don't push your sister", and he takes his hand away, then shoves her really hard, we rhetorically ask "why don't you listen!" after telling him off. But on the tenth time something snaps and I'm consumed by rage and all I want to do pick him up and shake him. Which, fortunately, I resist doing.
This, as I said, is something I just wasn't expecting. I blow up one in a million times in real life--it has to be a really bad day and a really big frustration for me to lose it. But since having kids, I've been so tired and so permanently on, that cracks appear more often. And nobody warned me that I'd feel this way towards the kids that I love, love more than anything in the world, kids that I couldn't, wouldn't, dare imagine hurting.
Apparently this isn't uncommon, it's just not talked about. One of the few books that promises to break the silence is The Bitch in the House. I loved the NPR review of the book and the interview with its authors, but the book itself disappointed. Every woman seemed to be from New York City, and none of their prime stressors seemed to really mesh with ours, even the one whose story had seemed so convincing on NPR.
Even more disappointing is that the book didn't talk about how to deal with it. Walking away is really the only thing we've found that helps. If you feel the rubber band tightening and your fingers are starting to reach for their throats, they're winding you up. Just say "sorry kids, I have to take a break" and leave the room. This doesn't help when the snappage comes out of the blue, but it's definitely made life easier for us. Knowing you don't have to deal well with every situation, only most of them, takes away a lot of the sense that we're failing our kids if we bow out. (How irrational is this sense--like staying with them and erupting is better for them!)
So if you're a parent and wondering whether you're the only freak who loves his or her kids but sometimes feels so unhinged that you, you who has never approved of spanking or any form of corporal punishment, you just want to slam them in a door, you're not alone.
Thank you for listening. Yes, there were some times of stress over this weekend