I was reading on Sundry's blog about the question of parenting changing you. Is there anything left of YOU, as a person, once you have kids? I have been thinking about it a lot because I really think the answer is hell no, and hell yes, both.
Everyone I know knows that I have not taken to motherhood well. But I think it's just my expectations, as usual, that needed to be managed before I had kids. I was just so surprised! by everything!
I still can't believe that my MIL thought that she was going to be in the room for the birth of my children. I still can't believe that she thought NOTHING of pressing on my stomach whenever she saw me after she knew that I was pregnant, even when I was like 10 weeks!
I can't believe how one (former) friend went ON and ON about how WONDERFUL it was and how much SHE LOVED having an infant and it was so beautiful and great and amazing and her baby slept all night at 3 weeks and it was so awesomely awesome in response to me saying "he never sleeps and he screams all the time. I don't know what to do".
I can't believe how tired I have been for almost four years.
I can't believe that I could get so mad at Todd for sleeping. Or having to go to the bathroom. Or having a job.
I can't believe how often I can cry.
I can't believe anyone thinks that because of the above, that I don't love my kids. It makes me insane(r) when people say "it's all worth it". I ESPECIALLY hate it when someone who is not the parent of the child says it. God. Of course I love them. That's part of the problem! Like - Joseph thinks nothing of whacking me in the face, and Kathleen thinks part of climbing up on me is to pinch my breasts or whatever she can grab onto in order to stand. Then I'm being hit in the face! And I think who the HELL is hitting me? Why am I being attacked? But I'm not being attacked, I'm being HELPFUL. I'm being a MOTHER. In order to be a mother, sometimes you have to get hit in the face or get pinched. I am still wrestling with this one.
I know two women that I think are bad mothers. One is the mother of my niece and one is the mother of my friend's stepson. By 'bad mother' I mean, like, bad. Like - I don't mean they don't use cloth diapers and they take their kids to McDonald's, I mean, I think that they are not preparing their children for life, and I think sometimes they are actually putting their children in danger. I have heard these women, on multiple occasions, say what GREAT mothers they are. AWESOME mothers! My friend who has the stepson and I talk about it - like WHO THE HELL sits around saying "I am an AWESOME mom!" It is my anecdotal conclusion, therefore, that good mothers don't talk about what good mothers they are. It's my only hope that I might be a good mother - or have the potential of being a good mother - someday.
Whenever we take Joseph for an autism thing - like an IEP, or an evaluation or something, the teachers/professionals/whoever are always going ON and ON about how GREAT we are doing! "You're doing great mom!" they'll say to me, having met me 30 minutes before. I think really? You think I'm doing great? It feels good and then I feel immediately like a phony. I think if they really knew me, or if they could spend a day watching me mother this boy that I barely understand, or if they (GOD FORBID) knew what I was thinking, they would know that I'm not doing great and that I am barely getting by, some days. So I wonder - are they just saying it? Or do they usually deal with such yahoos that by comparison, Todd and I seem great?
The last thing I'm thinking about whether or not you change or lose yourself or whatever when you're a parent is that sometimes people think they can comment on something like this because they are a parent. They think they (and I include myself in this) have earned the right to have an opinion about other parent's lives because they have kids. They scoff at people who DON'T have kids having an opinion about it. But the thing is, you really can't judge anyone until you have been THEM with THEIR kids. I know that sometimes people might see me on a rare jaunt to the grocery store with both kids. The other day we had an emergency and had to go get some crackers for Joseph (he has a limited list of foods that he will eat). There I was, all pregnant and crazed, with two kids in the cart, and I opened the box so that I could give Joseph some right there in the store. Then I had to give Kathleen some, too, to keep things equal. I KNOW that if I had seen me and didn't know anything, I would think 'look at that mother, coddling that giant boy, he must be really spoiled'. And I would have been SO wrong - he is not spoiled, he's not! He's autistic and he struggles with a lot of communication issues. So if he says "cracker" to me, I like to be able to give him what he wants and reward him for speaking, so that maybe he'll do more of it. But no one could know that in the grocery store. So my conclusion THERE is that you can't judge anyone's parenting, ever, even if you are a parent. Unless you are THEM with THEIR children, thoughts off!