I’m Not Cut Out for This

I’m not cut out for this.

I turn around in my seat, having just finished hollering something ineffective and useless like, “I mean it!” And the children don’t care, and they aren’t listening, and I am filled with rage.

I’m not cut out for this parenting thing.

We are on our way back from Lake Tahoe. We went up for the day, to celebrate the Fourth of July, and I actually gave myself the day off, though it was tempting to work instead. Mostly to get caught up and to make money. And a little bit because working is often easier than dealing with actual life.

We had a good day, and I felt genuinely happy standing in the cold water with the sun on my back, watching my kids dig holes in the sand. But Selah kept working hard at digging little lakes, and Asher took great joy in caving them in. Just to make her unhappy. And this, and their bickering about it made me momentarily unhappy. I managed to let them work it out for the most part.

Kids and Friends at Tahoe
Kids and Friends at Tahoe

Our friends have a cabin up there, and they invited us to join them there so that the kids could nap and so we could have dinner with them. We had a lovely, relaxing afternoon, especially when the boys were napping and Selah was watching TV.

But when both boys got up, they were a bit out of sorts, and so it got tiring trying to keep them from destroying the cabin. Asher wasn’t allowed to have dessert, and Selah decided not to have dessert, and then cried about not having dessert.

At Least One Person Was Eating Dinner
At Least One Person Was Eating Dinner

So by this time, an hour past their bedtimes and the point where I’m usually on my own, enjoying a glass of wine and some sort of silly television show or book, we are all tired. I am tired. And the kids are supposed to be settling down, but they are winding up. Selah and Asher, in the back row, are wiggling and squealing, and not exactly doing anything wrong except acting wired and nutso and loud. And Noah can’t fall asleep with them acting like they are ravers. Every time I get them to quiet down a little, one of them giggles, and then periodically, Noah exercises his lungs, releasing a huge holler of, “NOOOOOOOOOOO! Nooooo-OOOOOOO!” It is deafening, and nothing makes him stop–not talking to him, touching him, telling him no, or…


I try to ignore them all, and then I try yelling at them all, and then their dad yells at them all. We issue threats and warnings and requests, and we appeal to their rational side. Asher laughs while I’m doing this.

I hate Asher.

Noah screams, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

I hate Noah.

I think back over the past 7.5 years, and how few activities we have enjoyed, and how tiring everything is, and for a moment I question if I am different than other parents. I think about my friends hauling their kids all over, and how they don’t seem to hate each other. I think I’m probably screwing up my kids because I’m clearly not up to this parenting thing. I don’t even know what to do about the fact that Asher is outside of his routine now that school’s out, and he’s making everybody pay for it. Obviously whatever I am doing is not working. I like him so much so often, with the funny things that he says and how sweet he is, and then he hits babysitters and destroys Selah’s projects for fun, and purposely plays with things at Noah’s level so that he can throw a tantrum when Noah messes them up and then refuses to JUST. MOVE. THE. TOYS. TO. WHERE. NOAH. CAN’T. REACH. THEM.

And Selah has always been pretty well-behaved, except she’s exacerbating all of this by purposely rejecting him when he’s being nice, and then egging him on when he’s getting wound up, like tonight. She thinks I don’t notice that she is making smirky smiling faces at him while I’m scolding, with the hopes that he’ll laugh and get in trouble.

And doggone it, they are ruining Noah. Noah is screaming like this because, sometimes, Asher screams in the car. We don’t let it persist, we pull over and won’t drive if anyone is screaming. But Noah sees how fun and exhilarating it is to just bellow something at the top of your lungs in the car.

I’m tired. If I hadn’t had children, I would have spent my life wishing I had had children. I don’t even not want these three children. I do want them. I’m just tired. But it seems like there’s so little relief from the feeling of tired.

They are tired. They’re not even that bad. They are tired and wound up. How in the world can I overcome my own tiredness to adapt to theirs? How am I going to survive the summer? Why does everyone else like the summer so much? I think it’s because they either don’t work and so finally have family-wide free time, or because they do work, and their kids still aren’t out of their routines, because they are in child care. Mine are just free-range children, and I’m still trying to do a good job and pay the bills. But this feels out of my control, too.

I want control over this. I want to be such an amazing mom, and I want these darned kids to stop being human beings, stop being messy, and start being high-achieving, quiet automatons. I don’t want to have those moments where people look at me and think I’m not doing my job because my children are yelling. I think back to the era of children being seen and not heard, and I don’t understand how that was possible. How was that possible? In my weak moments, I want to achieve that. I want to drive back from Lake Tahoe and have them all fall asleep the minute the engine starts, and not use their ni-ni blankies to hit someone else in the eye.

I’m tired. But maybe I’m also fighting the wrong battle somehow.


11 responses to “I’m Not Cut Out for This”

  1. donelle and jason Avatar
    donelle and jason

    Never try to assess your parenting acumen on a road trip day. Never.

    1. That makes me laugh. I usually end up feeling homicidal, suicidal, or both when we are in the car.

  2. Oh honey. I feel ya. I am there SO often, and I hear myself yelling and think how nasty and mean I sound, and yet I can’t stop because the children don’t stop and EVERYONE IS MAD ALL THE TIME. Then when people come over we put on pretty faces and pretend we are happy and perfect. Sofía magically doesn’t spit on her sister, and Alea doesn’t just walk around whining and trying to pinch people and sticking her hand down her diaper. Ok, yes she still does that. But it doesn’t bother us because we are On Display. So maybe you should just hire a stranger to follow you around? Then you’d be on your best behavior at all times. Doesn’t that sound nearly as fun as the nonstop yelling? 🙂

    1. Right? Maybe then I’d follow all my own parenting values and ideals. And not hate the way I sound so much.

      1. Well at least when I come visit you we can all have a fake-happy afternoon together! 😀

  3. I read your blog all the time because you describe so much of my life. This is the first summer with my husband as a SAHD and no child care… Routine? what routine?

    And yesterday, because we tried a movie mid-day and got the toddler out of nap, swimming lessons last night about pushed me over an edge. We go early so everyone gets a chance to swim and cool off. I haven’t even finished spraying on sunscreen when child 1 swims too far away from Daddy and baby so I have to give Daddy toddler and retrieve child. I proceed to put her in time out so she can understand swimming safety (or so I can discipline her for not listening again). Timeout doesn’t go well and perfect mom to my left is staring at me (I think, your time is coming, your oldest isn’t even 2). Child 1 is out of timeout, and toddler decides to take off and go out of water by herself. Not sure, why, but no amount of saying/shouting/screaming her name seems to stop her. I get her, put her in time out and say you need to listen. Perfect mommy again seems to judge.

    Then comes the evil “water break” where everyone must leave the water for some stupid reason… So everyone must sit in the sand for 10 minutes… Toddler and child #1 begin fighting over the one bucket and shovel my husband let them bring. (NO, I have NO idea why he thought one would work.) Within 5 minutes, sand, the shovel and the bucket are flying through the air… (And we have to wait for swimming lessons to start!)

    Bedtime did not come soon enough!

  4. I have often found myself in a spot where I almost hoped the onlookers would say something so I could retort, “Does it look like I am not TRYING??” Come on, just say something, just say something…

  5. I just found your blog. A friend linked to it on Facebook. I just want to say Thank You. You truly get it and keep it real. Yes, it is wonderful. But no, not all the time. And it is hard. Really hard. We don’t live life on pretty Pinterest pages. We are all just muddling through trying to do our best and still try to enjoy while they are little!

    1. Thank you–that sums up my feelings quite well. Fatigue & noise seem to be my biggest problems.

      1. I agree – I am always exhausted and feel guilty that I don’t have the time everyone else seems to have for my husband (remember that guy? LOL) and exercising. I want to have this time, but I feel like I am constantly running everywhere as it is. I work full -time (fortunately from home most of the time) as well. I want to be like all the perfectly put-together mommies, but I don’t know how to get there when trying to juggle a million things a day so I don’t let someone down. Then I let myself down. We recently took a family vacation that was nice but definitely not relaxing. The road trip was just as you described, screaming, etc. no matter how well-prepared I thought I was with videos, snacks, etc. I was so happy to be home and what does my husband ask yesterday? Let’s go somewhere this weekend – Tennessee? I wanted to cry. He doesn’t get it.He doesn’t do any of the preparation. He doesn’t understand.

        1. I know–how am I getting hand-made Christmas cards from people? Haha. And I just hate, hate, hate being in the car now. I have thought that when they get to an age where they can listen to their own music, that will help. Kid books on CDs help sometimes too, though not always.

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