Friday, January 10, 2014

I can't see if the grass is really greener because there are too many toys.

A recent blog post by a friend triggered a discussion on Facebook, which included a comment about how any time a parent says anything deprecating about life-with-kids, they immediately (and somewhat desperately) follow it up with something along the lines of, "but I love them so much, and it's totally worth it," almost as though they are trying to convince themselves. 

While this comment was made with tongue firmly planted in cheek, it coincided with some soul searching that I have been doing lately. And that led to a number of realizations. 

I have spent a lot of time in the last few months feeling incredibly envious of some of my child-free friends. Like, ridiculously, bitterly jealous. And I have gone through a number of things in the last few months that have had me thinking, "This would be so much easier to deal with if I didn't have Moe." 

If I didn't have Moe, I would have been able to spend as much time as I wanted at Reg's bedside, without worrying that I am away from my child for too long, or that I am asking too much of my partner. 

If I didn't have Moe, I wouldn't be sick so often, and I would actually be able to spend a sick day taking care of myself, instead of taking care of my child (who is also sick). 

If I didn't have Moe, I would have money to travel with my husband. 

If I didn't have Moe, I would have time and money for personal fitness. 

If I didn't have Moe, it would be easier to spend quality time with friends. 

If I didn't have Moe, my house would be cleaner and prettier and better decorated and I wouldn't feel overwhelmed by all our stuff. (This, by the way, is completely untrue.)

If I didn't have Moe, I could be selfish without feeling guilty. 

Every time those thoughts have surfaced, in any shape or form, they have been immediately followed by a huge blanket of shame. (And, as we all know, shame leads to self-loathing which leads to anger and bitterness, which leads to the Dark Side.) 

The shame comes from the fact that for years, hearing people complain about life-with-kids was a source of pain for me. I admit now, when people complained about life-with-kids (or particularly, life-with-very-young-kids), my thought/feeling process would go something like this: "Why do you get to have children, and I don't? I want a child so badly that I would never think those thoughts. I am more deserving of a child than you are."  Which of course led to the core belief that to be worthy as a parent, you must never wish you weren't one. 

I wanted a child so badly. I didn't just choose to have a child. I moved heaven and earth to have one. I wept and screamed and felt like someone was ripping my heart out of my body. I went through physical hell. I made a dear friend put her life on hold and then put her through physical hell, too. I remortgaged my frigging house. 

And through the entire journey, the people I love gave me incredible, amazing and unbelievable emotional support. My friends and family held me up through this struggle. 

So the shame that follows any thought about how life would be easier without Moe is also accompanied by the feeling that I'm letting down all the people who have supported me. I'm letting you all down by not being a good enough, worthy enough parent. I'm not worthy of being a parent, and I'm not worthy of your love. I'm not a good person. I don't deserve my son. 

I know intellectually that this is untrue. But I have developed this pattern of automatic thoughts that lead to these core thoughts, and they come from a place beyond intellect. 

So, tl;dr, instead of feeling envious of people who have kids, I'm feeling envious of people who don't have kids. And those feelings of envy trigger deep feelings of shame and worthlessness, which takes the envy and wraps it up in a chocolatey coating of anger and bitterness. 

I'm in the process of making some changes in my life that will hopefully curb the negative feelings I've been having around a number of other issues. It looks like one of the things I'm going to have to do is accept that feeling that the grass is sometimes greener is totally normal and human, and it doesn't make me a bad person or a bad parent. 

I'm working on changing a lot of bad habits right now. Changing several of those habits will help me change this one. It's all intertwined. It's a process. But this little piece of self-examination has brought the troubling core thoughts to my attention. And that is ultimately positive, because you can't change what you don't know is there. 

(And of course, I'm not sorry I had Moe. Of course I love him, and of course it's all "worth it," whatever that means. If you've read even one of the letters on this blog, that should be obvious to you.) 

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